Three Significant Russia Stories Today

These are all important stories, which are easily missed given the overwhelming news out of Las Vegas today, so I wanted to give them their own dedicated post.

1. Tom Hamburger, Rosalind S. Helderman, and Adam Entous at the Washington Post: Trump's Company Had More Contact with Russia During Campaign, According to Documents Turned over to Investigators.
Associates of [Donald] Trump and his company have turned over documents to federal investigators that reveal two previously unreported contacts from Russia during the 2016 campaign, according to people familiar with the matter.

In one case, Trump's personal attorney and a business associate exchanged emails weeks before the Republican National Convention about the lawyer possibly traveling to an economic conference in Russia that would be attended by top Russian financial and government leaders, including President Vladi­mir Putin, according to people familiar with the correspondence.

In the other case, the same Trump attorney, Michael Cohen, received a proposal in late 2015 for a Moscow residential project from a company founded by a billionaire who once served in the Russian senate, these people said. The previously unreported inquiry marks the second proposal for a Trump-branded Moscow project that was delivered to the company during the presidential campaign and has since come to light.
So, to sum: More heretofore undisclosed contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian contacts during the campaign which suggest that Trump was actively planning to use the presidency to personally enrich himself via his private business.

2. Julia Ioffe and Franklin Foer at the Atlantic: Did Manafort Use Trump to Curry Favor with a Putin Ally?
On the evening of April 11, 2016, two weeks after Donald Trump hired the political consultant Paul Manafort to lead his campaign's efforts to wrangle Republican delegates, Manafort emailed his old lieutenant Konstantin Kilimnik, who had worked for him for a decade in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.

"I assume you have shown our friends my media coverage, right?" Manafort wrote.

"Absolutely," Kilimnik responded a few hours later from Kiev. "Every article."

"How do we use to get whole," Manafort asks. "Has OVD operation seen?"

According to a source close to Manafort, the initials "OVD" refer to Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska, a Russian oligarch and one of Russia's richest men.

...Excerpts from these emails were first reported by The Washington Post, but the full text of these exchanges, provided to The Atlantic, shows that Manafort attempted to leverage his leadership role in the Trump campaign to curry favor with a Russian oligarch close to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. Manafort was deeply in debt, and did not earn a salary from the Trump campaign.
There is much more at the link.

If the name Oleg Deripaska sounds familiar, that's because Deripaska is the same Russian oligarch for whom Manafort worked secretly for at least half a decade, during which time Manafort assisted Deripaska, a close Putin ally, to advance Putin's interests and "proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics."

Deripaska is the same guy to whom Manafort promised "private briefings" during the 2016 campaign and to whom Manafort reportedly owed somewhere between $7.8 and $19 million.

3. Joel Schectman, Dustin Volz, and Jack Stubbs at Reuters: HP Enterprise Let Russia Scrutinize Cyberdefense System Used by Pentagon.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise allowed a Russian defense agency to review the inner workings of cyber defense software used by the Pentagon to guard its computer networks, according to Russian regulatory records and interviews with people with direct knowledge of the issue.

The HPE system, called ArcSight, serves as a cybersecurity nerve center for much of the U.S. military, alerting analysts when it detects that computer systems may have come under attack. ArcSight is also widely used in the private sector.

The Russian review of ArcSight's source code, the closely guarded internal instructions of the software, was part of HPE's effort to win the certification required to sell the product to Russia's public sector, according to the regulatory records seen by Reuters and confirmed by a company spokeswoman.

Six former U.S. intelligence officials, as well as former ArcSight employees and independent security experts, said the source code review could help Moscow discover weaknesses in the software, potentially helping attackers to blind the U.S. military to a cyber attack.

"It's a huge security vulnerability," said Greg Martin, a former security architect for ArcSight. "You are definitely giving inner access and potential exploits to an adversary."

Despite the potential risks to the Pentagon, no one Reuters spoke with was aware of any hacks or cyber espionage that were made possible by the review process.

The ArcSight review took place last year, at a time when Washington was accusing Moscow of an increasing number of cyber attacks against American companies, U.S. politicians, and government agencies, including the Pentagon.
Welp. If it isn't the president's personal greed, or his associates' greed, that does us in, corporate greed might finish the job.

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