The Real Russian Interference in US Politics

If Russia were trying to interfere in U.S. domestic politics, it wouldn’t be attempting to change the U.S. system but to prevent it from trying to change Russia’s, argues Diana Johnstone.

By Diana Johnstone

The Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union was ostensibly a conflict between two ideologies and two socio-economic systems.

All that seems to be over. The day of a new socialism may dawn unexpectedly, but today capitalism rules the world. At first glance, it may seem to be a classic clash between rival capitalists. And yet, once again an ideological conflict is emerging, one which divides capitalists themselves, even in Russia and in the United States itself. It is the conflict between American unipolar dominance and a multipolar world.

The defeat of communism was brutally announced in a certain “capitalist manifesto” dating from the early 1990s that actually proclaimed: “Our guiding light is Profit, acquired in a strictly legal way. Our Lord is His Majesty, Money, for it is only He who can lead us to wealth as the norm in life.” The authors of this bold tract were Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who went on to become the richest man in Russia (before spending ten years in a Russian jail) and his business partner at the time, Leonid Nevzlin, who has since retired comfortably to Israel.

Loans for Shares

Those were the good old days in the 1990s when the Clinton administration was propping up Yeltsin as he let Russia be ripped off by the joint efforts of such ambitious well-placed Russians and their Western sponsors, notably using the “loans for shares” trick.

In a 2012 Vanity Fair article on her hero, Khodorkovsky, the vehemently anti-Putin journalist Masha Gessen frankly summed up how this worked:

The new oligarchs—a dozen men who had begun to exercise the power that money brought—concocted a scheme. They would lend the government money, which it badly needed, and in return the government would put up as collateral blocks of stock amounting to a controlling interest in the major state-owned companies. When the government defaulted, as both the oligarchs and the government knew it would, the oligarchs would take them over. By this maneuver the Yeltsin administration privatized oil, gas, minerals, and other enterprises without parliamentary approval.”

This worked so well that from his position in the Communist youth organization, Khodorkovsky used his connections to get control of Russia’s petroleum company Yukos and become the richest oligarch in Russia, worth some $15 billion, of which he still controls a chunk despite his years in jail (2003-2013).

His arrest made him a hero of democracy in the United States, where he had many friends, especially those business partners who were helping him sell pieces of Yukos to Chevron and Exxon. Khodorkovsky, a charming and generous young man, easily convinced his American partners that he was Russia’s number one champion of democracy and the rule of law, especially of those laws which allow domestic capital to flee to foreign banks, and foreign capital to take control of Russian resources.

Khodorkovsky: Interfering in U.S. politics. (Wikimedia Commons)

Vladimir Putin didn’t see it that way. Without restoring socialism, he dispossessed Khodorkovsky of Yukos and essentially transformed the oil and gas industry from the “open society” model tolerated by Yeltsin to a national capitalist industry. Khodorkovsky and his partner Platon Lebedev were accused of having stolen all the oil that Yukos had produced in the years 1998 to 2003, tried, convicted and sentenced to 14 years of prison each. This shift ruined U.S. plans, already underway, to “balkanize” Russia between its many provinces, thereby allowing Western capital to pursue its capture of the Russian economy.

The dispossession of Khodorkovsky was certainly a major milestone in the conflict between President Putin and Washington. On November 18, 2005, the Senate unanimously adopted Resolution 322 introduced by Senator Joe Biden denouncing the treatment of the Khodorkovsky and Lebedev as politically motivated.

Who Influences Whom?

There is an alternative view of the history of Russian influence in the United States to the one now getting constant attention. It is obvious that a Russian who can get the Senate to adopt a resolution in his favor has a certain influence. But when the “deep state” and the corporate media today growl about Russian influence, they aren’t talking about Khodorkovsky. They are talking about alleged collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. They are seizing, for example, on a joking response Trump made to a reporter’s snide question during the presidential campaign. In a variation of the classic “when did you stop beating your wife?” the reporter asked if he would call on Russian President Vladimir Putin to “stay out” of the election.

Since a stupid question does not deserve a serious answer, Trump said he had “nothing to do with Putin” before adding, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 [Hillary Clinton] e-mails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

Many Trump opponents think this proves collusion. Irony appears to be almost as unwelcome in American politics as honesty.

When Trump revoked his security clearance earlier this month, former CIA chief John Brennan got his chance to spew his hatred in the complacent pages of The New York Times. Someone supposed to be smart enough to head an intelligence agency actually took Trump’s joking invitation as a genuine request. “By issuing such a statement,” Brennan wrote, “Mr. Trump was not only encouraging a foreign nation to collect intelligence against a United States citizen, but also openly authorizing his followers to work with our primary global adversary against his political opponent.”

As America’s former top intelligence officer, Brennan had to know that (even if it were true that Trump was somehow involved) it is ludicrous to suggest that Trump would have launched a covert intelligence operation on national television. If this were a Russian operation to hack Clinton’s private server it would have been on a need-to-know basis and there is no evident need for Trump or his campaign team to have known.

Besides, Clinton’s private server on the day Trump uttered this joke, July 27, 2016, had already been about nine months in possession of the Department of Justice, and presumably offline as it was being examined.

Since Brennan knows all this he could only have been lying in The New York Times.

The Russians, Brennan went on, “troll political, business and cultural waters in search of gullible or unprincipled individuals who become pliant in the hands of their Russian puppet masters.”

But which Russians do that? And who are those “individuals?”

‘The Fixer-in-Chief’

Secretary of State John Kerry with Winer, then Special Envoy for Libya and Senior Advisor for MEK Resettlement, in Rome, February 1, 2016. (State Department Photo)

To understand the way Washington works, one can focus on the career of lawyer Jonathan M. Winer, who proudly says that in early 2017 the head of the Carnegie Endowment, Bill Burns, referred to him as “The Fixer-in-Chief.” Let’s see what the fixer has fixed.

Winer served in the Clinton State Department as its first Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Law Enforcement from 1994-1999. One may question the selectivity of Bill Clinton’s concern for international law enforcement, which certainly did not cover violating international law by bombing defenseless countries.

In any case, in 1999 Winer received the State Department’s second highest award for having “created the capacity of the Department and the U.S. government to deal with international crime and criminal justice as important foreign policy functions.” The award stated that “the scope and significance of his achievements are virtually unprecedented for any single official.”

After the Clinton administration, from 2008 to 2013, Winer worked as a high-up consultant at one of the world’s most powerful PR and lobbying firms, APCO Worldwide. As well as the tobacco industry and the Clinton Foundation, APCO also works for Khodorkovsky. To be precise, according to public listings, the fourth biggest of APCO’s many clients is the Corbiere Trust, owned by Khodorkovsky and registered in Guernsey. The trust tends and distributes some of the billions that the oligarch got out of Russia before he was jailed.

Corbiere money was spent to lobby both for Resolution 322 (supporting Khodorkovsky after his arrest in Russia) and for the Magnitsky Act. APCO president Margery Kraus is a member of the Institute of Modern Russia, which is headed by Khodorkovsky’s son Pavel, with the ostensible purpose of “promoting democratic values” – in other words, of building political opposition to Putin.

When John Kerry replaced Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, allowing Hillary to prepare her presidential campaign, Winer went back to the State Department. Winer’s extracurricular activities at State brought him into the public spotlight early this year when House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) named him as part of a network promoting the notorious “Steele Dossier,” which accused Trump of illicit financial dealing and compromising sexual activities in Russia, in a word, “collusion” with Moscow.

By Winer’s own account, he had been friends with former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele since his days at APCO. Back at State, he regularly channeled Steele reports, ostensibly drawn from contacts with friendly Russian intelligence agents, to Victoria Nuland, in charge of Russian affairs, as well as to top Russia experts. Among these reports was the infamous “Steele dossier,” opposition research on Trump financed by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

But dirt seemed to pass the other way too. According to a Feb. 6 Washington Post story, Winer passed on to Steele the story of Trump being urinated on by prostitutes in a Moscow hotel with Russian agents allegedly filming it for blackmail material. The Post says the story was written by Cody Shearer, a Clinton confidante. A lawyer for Winer told the paper that Winerwas concerned in 2016 about information that a candidate for the presidency may have been compromised by a hostile foreign power. Any actions he took were grounded in those concerns.” Shearer did not respond to a request for comment from Consortium News. (Full disclosure: Cody Shearer is a member of the advisory board of the Consortium for Independent Journalism, which publishes Consortium News, and has been asked to resign.)

All this Democrat paid-for and created dirt was spread through government agencies and mainstream media before being revealed publicly just before Trump’s inauguration. The Steele dossier was used by the Obama Justice Department to get a warrant to spy on the Trump campaign. 

Winer and the Magnitsky Act

Winer played a major role in Congress’s adoption of the “Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012” (the Magnitsky Act), a measure that effectively ended post-Cold War hopes for normal relations between Washington and Moscow. This act was based on a highly contentious version of the November 16, 2009 death in prison of accountant Sergei Leonidovich Magnitsky as told to Congress by hedge fund manager Bill Browder.  According to Browder, Magnitsky was a lawyer beaten to death in prison as a result of his crusade for human rights.

However, as convincingly established by dissident Russian film-maker Andrei Nekrasov’s investigative documentary (blacklisted in the U.S.), Magnitsky was neither a human rights crusader, nor a lawyer, nor beaten to death. He was an accountant jailed for his role in Browder’s business dealings, who died of natural causes as a result of inadequate prison care. The case was hyped as a major human rights drama by Browder in order to discredit Russian tax fraud charges against himself.

By adopting a law punishing Magnitsky’s alleged persecutors, the U.S. Congress acted as a supreme court judging internal Russian legal issues.

The Magnitsky Act also condemns legal prosecution of Khodorkovsky. Browder, on a much smaller scale, also made a fortune ripping off Russians during the Yeltsin years, and later got into trouble with Russian tax collectors. Since Browder had given up his U.S. citizenship in order to avoid paying U.S. taxes, he had reason to fear Russian efforts to extradite him for tax evasion and other financial misdeeds.

It was Winer who found a solution to Browder’s predicament. As Winer wrote in The Daily Beast:

When Browder consulted me, he wanted to know what he could do to hold those involved in the case accountable. As Browder describes in his bookRed Notice, I suggested creating a new law to impose economic and travel sanctions on human-rights violators involved in grand corruption. Browder decided this could secure a measure of justice for Magnitsky. He initiated a campaign that led to the enactment of the Magnitsky Act. Soon other countries enacted their own Magnitsky Acts, including Canada, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and most recently, the United Kingdom.”

Browder: Fabulist. (Editions Kero)

Meanwhile, Russian authorities have been trying for years to pursue their case against Browder. Putin brought up the case in his press conference following the Helsinki meeting with Trump. Putin suggested allowing U.S. authorities to question the 12 Russian GRU military intelligence agents named in the Mueller indictment in exchange for allowing Russian officials to question individuals involved in the Browder case, including Winer and former U.S. ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul, among others. Putin observed that such an exchange was possible under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty signed between the two countries in 1999, back in the Yeltsin days when America was posing as Russia’s best friend.

But the naïve Russians underestimated the craftiness of American lawyers.

As Winer wrote, “Under that treaty, Russia’s procurator general can ask the U.S. attorney general … to arrange for Americans to be ordered to testify to assist in a criminal case. But there is a fundamental exception: The attorney general can provide no such assistance in a politically motivated case (my emphasis). I know this because I was among those who helped put it there. Back in 1999, when we were negotiating the agreement with Russia, I was the senior State Department official managing U.S.-Russia law-enforcement relations.”

The clever treaty is a perfect Catch-22. It doesn’t apply to a case if it is politically motivated, and if it is Russian, it must be politically motivated. (The irony is that Mueller’s indictment of 12 GRU Russian military intelligence agents appears to be more a political than a legal document. For one thing, it accused the agents of interfering in a U.S. election but never charges them under U.S. electoral law.)

On July 15, 2016, Browder’s Heritage Capital Management firm registered a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice accusing both American and Russian opponents of the Magnitsky Act of violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA); adopted in 1938 with Nazis in mind.

As for Russian lawyers attempting to bring their case against the Act to the U.S., the Heritage Capital Management brief declared:

While lawyers representing foreign principals are exempt from filing under FARA, this is only true if the attorney does not try to influence policy at the behest of his client. By disseminating anti-Magnitsky material to Congress, [lawyer Natalia] Veselnitskaya is clearly trying to influence policy and is therefore in violation of her filing requirements under FARA.”

Veselnitskaya was at the infamous Trump Tower meeting in the summer of 2016 to lobby a possible incoming Trump administration to oppose the Magnitsky Act. A British music promoter, not a spokesman for the Russian government, offered dirt on Clinton in an email to Donald Trump Jr. No dirt was apparently produced and Don Jr. saw it as a lure to get him to the meeting on Magnitsky. Democrats are furiously trying to prove that this meeting was “collusion” between the Trump camp and Russia, though it was the Clinton campaign that paid for opposition research and received it from foreigners, while the Trump campaign neither solicited nor apparently received any at that meeting.

The Ideological Conflict Today

Needless to say, Khodorkovsky’s Corbiere Trust lobbied hard to get Congress to pass the Magnitsky Act. This type of “Russian interference intended to influence policy” goes unnoticed while U.S. authorities scour cyberspace for evidence of trolls.

The basic ideological conflict here is between Unipolar America and Multipolar Russia. Russia’s position, as Putin made clear in his historic speech at the Munich security conference in 2007, is to allow countries to enjoy national sovereignty and develop in their own way. The current Russian government is against interference in other countries’ politics on principle. It would naturally prefer an American government willing to do the same.

The United States, in contrast, is in favor of interference in other countries on principle: because it seeks a Unipolar world, with a single “democratic” system, and considers itself the final authority as to which regime a country should have and how it should run its affairs.

So, if Putin were trying to interfere in U.S. domestic politics, he would not be trying to change the U.S. system but to prevent it from trying to change his own.

U.S. policy-makers practice interference every day. And they are perfectly willing to allow Russians to interfere in American politics – so long as those Russians like Khodorkovsky, who aspire to precisely the same unipolar world sought by the State Department. Indeed, the American empire depends on such interference from Iraqis, Libyans, Iranians, Russians, Cubans – all those who come to Washington to try to get U.S. power to settle old scores or overthrow the government in the country they came from and put themselves in power. All those are perfectly welcome to lobby for a world ruled by America.

Russian interference in American politics is totally welcome so long as it helps turn public opinion against “multipolar” Putin, glorifies American democracy, serves U.S. interests, including the military industries, helps break down national borders (except those of the United States and Israel) and puts money in appropriate pockets in the halls of Congress.

Diana Johnstone is the author of Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western DelusionsHer new book is Queen of Chaos: the Misadventures of Hillary Clinton. The memoirs of Diana Johnstone’s father Paul H. Johnstone, From MAD to Madness, was published by Clarity Press, with her commentary. She can be reached at [email protected] .

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48 comments for “The Real Russian Interference in US Politics

  1. RickD
    September 9, 2018 at 06:56

    While I claim only my own opinion and do not seek to demean the author I must note that this article seems a whitewash of Putin’s strategies and a large list of distorted or irrelevant facts.
    That Putin strives mightily to restore Russia to the “glory days” of the Soviet Union, through intimidation, invasion, usurpation and , yes, Ms. Johnstone, by attempting to install a US president who will make his task easier are seemingly unassailable facts .At least to many excepting this author.
    That this is a battle between two capitalist nations is true enough and is not an excuse for allowing said meddling in our election to go without addressing and repairing the systems that allowed it.

  2. September 9, 2018 at 04:00

    Outstanding journalism. Exemplary of journalism with integrity.

  3. Kevin T
    August 30, 2018 at 16:56

    So, a few American Oligarchs (who control the US govt and some politicians) are still upset with Russia because Putin jailed a few corrupt Russian Oligarchs who lack the control of the Russian Government that US Oligarchs enjoy at home.. The ability of the super-rich to exploit society worldwide must be protected.

  4. Jutta Woods
    August 29, 2018 at 18:10

    Thank you very much, for this remarkable article. Just 1 person I know to send it to most people I know do not want to read it and my husband died 2 years ago.

    I wish you lots of more courage and energy and Blessings to continue.
    Kind regards,
    Jutta Woods

  5. August 29, 2018 at 12:26

    Diana Johnstone’s combination of insight and courage and integrity (the last-named as rare as admirable) matches that of Robert Parry himself.
    Not trying to be paradoxical, but it might be worth examining whether what is going on in the U.S. currently – a truly unprecedented crisis of governance amid probably irreversible polarization – is not so much a matter of using Russia to discredit and ultimately depose Trump as using Trump, both as Trump proper and as his demonized caricature, to intensify (as Johnstone demonstrates) the already frenzied conflict and confrontation with Russia. I’m increasingly tending toward the latter.

  6. August 29, 2018 at 12:01

    Excellent article Diana, “felicitaciones”.

  7. John Puma
    August 29, 2018 at 11:41

    Re Mueller accusing Russian “agents of interfering in a U.S. election but never charg(ing) them under U.S. electoral law.”

    Of course, Rootin’ Tootin’ Putin© would never extradite said Russian citizens.

    At least Mueller must fervently hope that. If he were to spark a high profile trial of alleged breaches of US electoral law, the increasingly steep slope of election fraud by both US major political parties might just get terminally greased.

    • RickD
      September 9, 2018 at 06:58

      Charges were indeed filed against those Russians, please try and keep up.

  8. Maxim Gorki
    August 29, 2018 at 10:49

    Thank you. A ray of truth in a world clouded with lies.

  9. Sojourner Truth
    August 28, 2018 at 18:27

    Some perspective on Khordokovsky, et al can be found here:

  10. August 28, 2018 at 17:34

    It was a pleasure to read Diana’s lucid, revealing article.

  11. August 28, 2018 at 17:06

    “When Trump revoked his security clearance earlier this month, former CIA chief John Brennan got his chance to spew his hatred in the complacent pages of The New York Times. Someone supposed to be smart enough to head an intelligence agency actually took Trump’s joking invitation as a genuine request. “By issuing such a statement,” Brennan wrote, “Mr. Trump was not only encouraging a foreign nation to collect intelligence against a United States citizen, but also openly authorizing his followers to work with our primary global adversary against his political opponent.””

    In the meantime, we can read, in Eva Bartlett’s blog post titled “Bolton calls on Al-Qaeda to stage more chemical attacks in Syria,” the following:

    == =
    In a move that was entirely predictable, the US administration is once again threatening to bomb Syria if there is a “chemical weapons attack”.

    This was entirely predictable because that chemical attack script has been read out, with salty crocodile tears, fake concern, and mocked indignation by US talking heads over the years – since 2012, in fact, when former US President Obama himself drew his red line on Syria.

    The latest script-reader to toe the chemical hoax line is President Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, who on August 22, stated: “…if the Syrian regime uses chemical weapons we will respond very strongly and they really ought to think about this a long time.”

    Beyond the tattered veil of moral superiority that is US war propaganda, Bolton’s words were clearly a very public command to Al-Qaeda and co-extremists to stage yet another fake chemical attack.
    = ==

  12. August 28, 2018 at 13:39

    A rather vague statement, Dick Vain, but it appears you support the ‘unipolar hegemony’? Hard to tell what you intend by use of ‘privilege’. Diana Johnstone’s article documents the activities of Khodorkovsky, Browder, Gessen, who continue to agitate against Putin. There are others. So what’s your point, and what’s the b.s.? The evidence is clear, Biden and Obama got the Magnitsky Act passed, and one of those two is not ‘white’, which is not the issue, anyway — the issue is money, power and control.

  13. August 28, 2018 at 13:26

    Diana Johnstone’s immeasurably important, timely, extraordinary exposition of true facts – truth rarely, if ever, acknowledged in the United States Congress and/or Western media – represents what can most certainly be described as “historic gamechanger”.

  14. August 28, 2018 at 12:59

    How much privilege does it take to write these words:

    “Russian interference in American politics is totally welcome so long as it helps turn public opinion against “multipolar” Putin, glorifies American democracy, serves U.S. interests, including the military industries, helps break down national borders (except those of the United States and Israel) and puts money in appropriate pockets in the halls of Congress.”

    By estimate it doesn’t matter as long as it’s white…

    Trading in one devil for another…

    People who support this bullshit upside down line of thinking are welcome to jump off a cliff really.

  15. Walter
    August 28, 2018 at 12:07

    About the Secret State or Power Elite…Thierry Meyssan wrote about a new and signal event…

    The Power Elite are facing an abyss, of real war and defeat, or simply defeat…as “assets” are prepared in Syria for a showdown, with dozens of warships and so forth… Meantime they drivel about trivial stuff in “news” from the fascist press, and the Germans prepare to make nice with Ivan (the satrapies are switching sides, alas!)

    “…The Western powers are moving inexorably towards Internet censorship, thereby facilitating the dissemination of propaganda and war indoctrination in their countries. In this context, an extremely violent tension is tearing apart the international scene. Aware of the increasing risk of general confrontation, Moscow is attempting to find credible interlocutors in the UNO and the United States. What is happening at the moment has seen no equivalent since 1938, and could degenerate in the same way.,,,”

    and (darkly) : “From Moscow’s point of view, the war of aggression – by the intervention of jihadist proxies – against Syria must cease, and the unilateral sanctions by the US, Canada and the European Union against Russia must be lifted. The problem that we must all now face is not the defence [sic] of democracy, but the danger of war.

    Void of any legitimacy, a parallel hierarchy in New York and Washington intends to plunge the world into a generalised [sic] conflict.”

    • robjira
      August 28, 2018 at 23:35

      Outstanding article by Meyssan; thanks for linking.

  16. August 28, 2018 at 12:00

    Really good elucidation of the double standard in American politics as it concerns Russian interference.

  17. modern99angel
    August 28, 2018 at 11:46

    “The greatest tool at the disposal of globalists is the use of false paradigms to manipulate public perception and thus public action. The masses are led to believe that at the highest levels of geopolitical and financial power there is such a thing as “sides.” This is utter nonsense when we examine the facts at hand.

    We are told the-powers-that-be are divided by “Left” and “Right” politics, yet both sides actually support the same exact policy actions when it comes to the most important issues of the day and only seem to differ in terms of rhetoric, which is meaningless and cosmetic anyway. That is to say, it’s nothing but Kabuki theater.

    The abuses of one “side” are being used to push us into the arms of the other side, which is just as abusive.

    In terms of geopolitics, we are told that national powers stand “at cross-purposes;” that they have different interests and different goals, which has led to things like “trade wars” and sometimes shooting wars. Yet, when we look at the people actually pulling the strings in most of these countries, we find the same names and institutions. Whether you are in America, Russia China, the EU, etc., globalist think tanks and international banks are everywhere, and the leaders in all of these countries call for MORE power for such institutions, not less.

    These wars, no matter what form they take, are a circus for the public. They are engineered to create controlled chaos and manageable fear. They are a means to influence us towards a particular end, and that end, in most cases, is more social and economic influence in the hands of a select few. In each instance, people are being convinced to believe that the world is being divided when it is actually being centralized.”

    • August 28, 2018 at 12:15

      Angel, you are on point. What you describe about the two sides is the Hegelian Dialectic in action. This is why the shadow rulers are desperate to maintain two-party duopoly.

      Very enlightening article, by the way. Well done.

  18. Walter
    August 28, 2018 at 11:37

    Russia does have an evident Policy to demonstrate and illuminate the “fissures in our tapestry [of lies]”.

    This tapestry itself is US Policy, as incoming CIA boss Casey said: ““We’ll Know Our Disinformation Program Is Complete When Everything the American Public Believes Is False.” (look it up). RT and other Russian source keep showing the Americans and the rest of the world that the “tapestry” is infested. This is a iconoclastic Policy…burning the false gods of myth.

    It would not work if American propaganda told the truth…but it happens that they must lie – it’s Policy set by the secret state, the “power elite” as C. Wright Mills termed it. And it is a signal of proximate disaster…read MacBeth…”Hang those who speak of fear”…on the cusp of Banquo’s defeat of poor old Mac….

    The Quakers say “Tell the truth and shame the devil” – that’s about what the Ruskies are doing…shaming the devil by exposing his lies.

  19. August 28, 2018 at 11:37

    An overlooked meddler is George Soros, who was also a player in the takedown of Russia and has been kicked out by Putin and the Duma, his NGOs are not allowed to operate in Russia. Orban has had him banned in Hungary. There are constant neoliberal apologists for Soros, but his hidden hand working behind the scenes has been well documented. Russia, especially Putin, is Soros’ “white whale”, as Alex Christoforou states in “Leaked Memo Exposes George Soros’ plan to overthrow Putin”, 7/19/18:…. “how the billionaire uses his vast wealth to create global chaos in a neverending push to deliver his neoliberal euphoria to the peasant classes”. Alex Christoforou,, originally published on The Duran.

    • backwardsevolution
      August 28, 2018 at 21:27

      Hi, Jessika – I wonder about George Soros. He’s certainly been meddling everywhere, as you said, in Russia, Hungary, assisting African migrants to get to Europe with his NGO’s, Black Lives Matter, Antifa, etc.

      Imagine you or I being a multi-billionaire and we’re throwing our money around, meddling all over the place. If the elite, the powers that be didn’t approve of what we were doing, the media would get out front and vilify us, the elite would try to stop us by passing new laws, whatever, and if we didn’t stop, they’d either arrest us, if possible, or take us out.

      No one is doing this to George Soros, except for Russia and Hungary. Believe me, if Europe did not want those migrants (or hadn’t been ordered to take them), that route would have been choked off immediately. It wasn’t.

      I have come to believe that George Soros is taking his orders from higher up, and then he carries out the orders and takes the heat for them. Everyone just says, “Oh, that’s just George Soros and his money again,” never questioning how he is able to get away with what he’s doing, which is usually totally AGAINST citizens’ wishes.

      No one is stopping him, Jessika, not really, which leads me to conclude that he’s doing what he’s told. He appears to have free rein to do whatever he pleases.

      Just my two cents. What do you think?

  20. Larry Gates
    August 28, 2018 at 10:45

    Brilliant, insightful, lucid, full of interesting details. It is articles like this that keep me coming back to Consortioum News.

    • August 28, 2018 at 14:32

      I agree. We’d be much more ignorant of the facts without Johnstone.

  21. August 28, 2018 at 10:27

    “Needless to say, Khodorkovsky’s Corbiere Trust lobbied hard to get Congress to pass the Magnitsky Act. This type of “Russian interference intended to influence policy” goes unnoticed while U.S. authorities scour cyberspace for evidence of trolls.”

    America has the gall to accuse Russia of doing something we do openly and to a far greater extent.

    Great article. Not sure about the mechanics of how a select few stole Russia’s wealth. Somewhere I read the thieves did not have to put up their own money, but performed the conversion through Russian loans. The purchase prices were so low compared to the real value of the assets that they became overnight billionaires. Don’t now if they repaid the loans.

    Someone may have a different understanding of how it was done.

    Great article.

  22. Bob Van Noy
    August 28, 2018 at 09:12

    Thanks to all. It is crucial at this point to keep the so called Russiagate story in context beyond the pages and discussion here at CN. To that extent I will offer an excellent article from off Guardian by Eric Zuesse including some excellent links especially one leading to an interview of Anne Williamson about her book on the subject. I will link the off Guardian piece but I encourage those inclined to carefully follow all the links and video’s so that we can offer a clear counter to what happened in Russia and why…

  23. August 28, 2018 at 08:45

    The political theater dubbed “Russiagate” (aren’t we getting “gated” to death?) is looking more and more like cover for the dirty deeds of Clinton, throwing more and more pooh at the already-fatigued American public, trying to make Trump look like the bad guy so nobody notices what really went on in Clinton world.

  24. Tobey
    August 28, 2018 at 08:28

    Hermitage Capital Management…can you correct that typo…?

  25. mike k
    August 28, 2018 at 08:07

    Trying to predict what the crazy greedy power hungry bastards leading the human world to it’s extinction will do next, is the maddening game we are forced to play by their suicidal games. No one can guess exactly how they will blunder into destroying us all, but their moves in this direction are apparent,

  26. backwardsevolution
    August 28, 2018 at 06:31

    This is a really good article entitled “Fixers”:

    “If there’s one thing that is exposed in the sorry not-so-fairy tale of former Trump aides Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen, it’s that Washington is a city run by fixers. Who often make substantial amounts of money. Many though by no means all, start out as lawyers and figure out that let’s say ‘the edges of what’s legal’ can be quite profitable.

    And it helps to know when one steps across that edge, so having attended law school is a bonus. Not so much to stop when stepping across the edge, but to raise one’s fees. There’s a lot of dough waiting at the edge of the law. None of this should surprise any thinking person. Manafort and Cohen are people who think in millions, with an easy few hundred grand thrown in here and there. […]

    Lanny Davis is a lawyer, special counsel even, for the Clintons. Has been for years. Which makes it kind of curious that Michael Cohen would pick him to become his legal representation. But that’s not all Davis is involved in. Like any true fixer, he has his hands in more cookie jars than fit in the average kitchen. […]

    And now Davis, the Clinton fixer, is Michael Cohen’s lawyer. The fixer defending a fixer. So who pays the bill? Well, ostensibly no-one, because Davis started a Go Fund Me campaign where people can donate so Cohen “can tell people the truth about Trump”. The goal is $500,000. Which goes to .. Lanny Davis. […]

    In the end, I can draw only one conclusion: there are so many sharks and squids swimming in the swamp that either it should be expanded or the existing one should be cleaned up and depopulated. So bring it: investigate the FBI, the Clintons, and fixers like Lanny Davis and Michael Avenatti, the same way the Trump camp has been.

    Because if you don’t do that, you can only possibly end up in an even bigger mess. You can’t drain half a swamp.”

    Lanny Davis proceeds to go on a whole bunch of talk shows, claiming the sky is falling, and then in the next couple of days walks all of it back.

    Another tactic of a psychopath: lie, lie and lie. Get the lie(s) out there any way you can, create lots of damage. Then when you’re called on what you’ve said, you just say something like, “Yeah, I guess I had that wrong.” The “walking back” is never covered as much as the original lie.

    • Michael
      August 28, 2018 at 08:20

      The number of Establishment politicians and their lawyers protecting their turf (Ukraine and Russia) seems to be multiplying. When Mueller did not arrest the Podesta Group and Greg Craig, it was clear that his investigation was a partisan “get Trump” witch hunt; Mueller destroyed his own credibility by not removing all the bad apples, just the Trump-brand ones.

  27. backwardsevolution
    August 28, 2018 at 05:57

    You can’t even keep up with the actors and players in Russiagate’s Theatre of the Absurd. The Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC hire Perkins Coie, a law firm, in order to hide the fact that they’re doing opposition research with campaign funds. Perkins Coie hires Fusion GPS, a research firm, and Fusion GPS hires Christopher Steele, a former MI6 British agent to come up with some dirt on Trump. Then there’s all of the DOJ, FBI and CIA actors who were in on setting up Trump. Add the media into the mix and you’ve got quite a story of lies and corruption.

    Tomorrow Bruce Ohr (a lawyer and former number four official at the DOJ) gives testimony before the House Intelligence Committee to explain his 70+ interactions with Christopher Steele. His wife, Nellie Ohr, worked for Glen Simpson at Fusion GPS, and apparently Bruce Ohr accidentally failed to mention that his wife was working for Fusion GPS on his DOJ disclosure form.

    Nellie Ohr, Harvard graduate in Russian history/literature and fluent in Russian, suddenly decides to get her HAM radio licence in May of 2016. Could she have gotten this to get around being tracked? Who knows.

    Good article, Diana Johnstone.

    • Seer
      August 29, 2018 at 07:44

      Wasn’t it the mainstream GOP that initially started the Russia dirt digging operation? Seems like the [rotten] core of both parties will ensure that the facts don’t come out: and then there’s the fact that the Deep State’s actors are already reaping the financial benefits of a Russian hobgoblin- I’m pretty certain that Kester Ratcliff is working on a Putinist List to “aid” in protecting this scam.

      • backwardsevolution
        August 30, 2018 at 02:59

        Seer – yes, I think it was Paul Singer of Elliott Management hedge fund who first started the dirt digging. Once Trump won the nomination in March of 2016, he gave it up, and then the Democrats began digging.

  28. Realist
    August 28, 2018 at 04:46

    This article makes the precipitous decline of America’s middle class a bit clearer in retrospect. The lawless free-for-all that was unleashed on America’s economy after all the rules and regulations were stricken from the books during the Clinton years was already being put into effect in Russia–which theretofore had no need for laws to regulate rampant capitalism which had completely disappeared from the country 70 years earlier. The elite insiders in America saw how quickly and effectively a country could be picked clean in the absence of restraints. By the time our own safeguards were erased during the 90’s whilst Russia was being pillaged, the transnational oligarchs were all set to pick America clean during the Bush years, which they did using the MIC and the Wall Street financial institutions against a background of deliberate war, fear and societal confusion.

    By the time Candyman Obama took office, Main Street America was on the verge of economic collapse, just like Russia. People were losing their jobs, their homes, their health, their families, their self-respect and their hope. Obviously, the job the Obama administration was chosen to do was to stabilise, but not cure the patient. Money stolen from future generations of taxpayers through government borrowing was used to prop up the financial institutions on the verge of collapse just as surely as Yeltsin’s Russia stole from the collective to create its oligarchs. But little to nothing was done to help the middle class so their economic death spiral continues (any help for them would represent that demonic force called “socialism!”), as it will until the vampire capitalists have extracted whatever life force remains, whereupon they shall simply move on to their next targets–one of the “developing countries” or “emerging economies” they are struggling mightily to control by whatever means necessary, as if it is totally natural and permissible to preclude trade between all of Central Asia and its neighbors in China or Russia, to say nothing of monopolizing all relations with the America’s, Europe, Africa, India and probably Mars. Nothing is to be permitted unless Jeff Bezos says so.

    This business of collecting NATO allies across the globe is simply setting them up for future economic exploitation. And when sometime past mid-century after the resources have all played out and ruined economies litter the landscape, I suppose the “masters of the universe” orchestrating all of this will ultimately have to unleash their final solution for “down-sizing” the population to fit the economic realities, be it a war, a plague, or simply mass starvation. I don’t think psychopaths will be burdened too much by guilt, besides there won’t be too many people left to cast blame on them. With all the computational resources of the world at their disposal, I’m sure a million scenarios have been run on the supercomputers in some bunker under a mountain near Davos looking for the tidiest fix. Not that WE would know, but they may already be implementing some scheme drawn up by HAL9000, who by now probably walks around in a flawless fembot body. (Ooops. Didn’t realise I was plagiarizing Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” with that last bit.)

    • Dave P.
      August 28, 2018 at 19:48

      What an accurate sketch! Along with the future scenario planned for the humanity on the planet. As always, your comments are closest to reality as one can get. Your comments are valued very much.

  29. backwardsevolution
    August 28, 2018 at 00:03

    “In 2016, Winer received the highest award granted by the Secretary of State, for ‘extraordinary service to the U.S. government’ in avoiding the massacre of over 3,000 members of an Iranian dissident group in Iraq, and for leading U.S. policy in Libya ‘from a major foreign policy embarrassment to a fragile but democratic, internationally recognized government.'”

    OMG, high-fives and booyahs! Just look at what you get for failing!

  30. Eduardo Cohen
    August 27, 2018 at 23:54

    Excellent article. Very informative. I’m just surprised that in the listing of nations from which people are welcome to seek
    the interference of U.S. power to settle old scores or overthrow their government (Iraq, Libya, Iran, Russian, Cuba) the very current examples of Venezuela, Nicaragua and Syria are not mentioned. But still a great article.

  31. Joe Tedesky
    August 27, 2018 at 22:44

    At the rate the U.S. Hegemony Project is going America will be a leader with no followers.

  32. David G
    August 27, 2018 at 22:32

    This Diana Johnstone piece actually dovetails really well with the recent CN article by Caitlin Johnstone, “How to Beat a Manipulator”.

    CJ wrote:
    “Manipulators particularly use projection as a tactic to hide what they’re doing to you in plain sight. A manipulator can have you chasing your tail by simply suggesting that you or others are doing what you are seeing them doing with your own eyes. DNC caught rigging the election? Oh no, it was actually Russia who rigged the election by catching the DNC rigging the election. See what I did there? It’s so dumb, but it works.”

    Here DJ clues us in on another of the same sort of con, or more precisely, another aspect of the same big con.

  33. David G
    August 27, 2018 at 21:46

    “One may question the selectivity of Bill Clinton’s concern for international law enforcement, which certainly did not cover violating international law by bombing defenseless countries.”

    … or catching international fugitives like Marc Rich.

  34. Tom Kath
    August 27, 2018 at 20:52

    We cannot jump to conclusions regarding Putin’s MULTIpolar vision. At this stage BIpolar would seem a more accurate description. – Still, a step in the right direction from UNIpolar hegemony.

    • August 27, 2018 at 22:15

      Tom Kath – and your reason for describing Russia as supporting a “Bipolar” rather than multi-polar world would be the some 21 Russian military bases versus the U.S. having almost 900 such bases? Perhaps you’re referring to Russia’s recent invasions and/or attempted destabilizations of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Iran – oh, wait, that’s the U.S. list. Help me out here – what am I missing Tom? Do I need to tune into to Rachel for a few days to get up to snuff?

  35. August 27, 2018 at 20:17

    Excellent post. The anti-Russian absurdist psycho-carnival taking place for two years now in U.S. mainstream media should be enough (in a sane society) to topple this house of cards – along with its fantasy goal of “full spectrum dominance” – yet it soldiers on. Perhaps only a self-inflicted nuclear winter can stop this mad machine and the assorted array of absolute dolts at the helm. Oddly they would seem to vastly prefer this option to accepting a multi-polar world – which of course speaks volumes regarding what passes for “sanity” in U.S. ruling circles these days.

  36. Jeff Harrison
    August 27, 2018 at 20:13

    I vote for Vladimir Putin’s multipolar vision of the world and against the US’s vision of a new Roman Empire.

    • August 29, 2018 at 08:29

      Diana’s way of looking at things here is helpful. I thought it was a great article and still do, although I don’t believe that there are righteous and unrighteous great powers. Nor do I believe in Vladimir Putin, although I’d rather have him for Prime Minister than Justin Trudeau.

      I would factor into our deliberations here the tendency for politicians, Parties and, I guess, great powers out of favor with the greatest (earthly) power, to say the right things, which can include avoiding saying the wrong things, in order to get the support from all and any spectators that they need. Perhaps the clearest example of that is at the level of political Parties vying for ruling Party position. Noam Chomsky makes the point (that others make) that the Republican Party is a radical insurgency and not a sane one. That’s one reason that it’s members say outrageous things. The reason is that it is powerful and has powerful friends. Therefore, they can babble at us. What can we do about it?

      Our NDP here is good at saying the right things, out of power. Rachel Notley, Bob Rae, all of the nominally leftwing politicians striving to be crowned king or queen, actually, say the right, pro people, pro environment, pro peace, pro democratic things and then when they achieve power (provincially or federally), they rule from the Right. That applies to our Liberal Party for sure. Although sometimes, the talk isn’t even pro people talk, but folks (like the phony lefties, media and other, who urged voting for Trudeau) aren’t paying enough attention (or are and just don’t care) to ignore the advice. Barack Obama is another good example. The book, edited by Jeffrey St Clair (an otherwise nasty dude) and Joshua Frank, titled “Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion,” includes entries by some 50 different authors that, taken together, look at his political trajectory. The guy broke virtually every promise that he made when ‘out’ of power.

      Russia is out of power. But what if it wasn’t? How would it behave?

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