Drawing on contemporaneous emails and private interviews, an 18-month probe by the Senate Finance Committee’s Democratic staff found that the NRA underwrote political access for Russian nationals Maria Butina and Alexander Torshin more than previously known — even though the two had declared their ties to the Kremlin.
…Tax-exempt organizations are barred from using funds for the personal benefit of its officials or for actions significantly outside their stated missions. The revelations in the Senate report raise questions about whether the NRA could face civil penalties or lose its tax-exempt status.
A straight-shooting, no-nonsense career US diplomat who was hesitant to return to Ukraine for the Trump administration now appears to have been a voice of reason as two fellow diplomats discussed pressuring Ukraine’s new president to dig up dirt that might help …Trump’s reelection campaign.
…They say he’s a tell-it-like-it-is extrovert who puts matters of state before politics.
… Sondland and Volker told an aide to Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, that an official White House visit to meet Trump and the delivery of $391 million in critical military aid was dependent on him launching and publicizing investigations into a gas company where Joe Biden’s son Hunter worked, and Ukrainian interference in the 2016 elections.
…“Are we now saying that security assistance and [White House] meeting are conditioned on investigations?” Taylor texted to Sondland on Sept. 1, after the Ukrainians had learned that the US was withholding the military aid and Trump had backed out of a trip to Poland, where he was supposed to meet with Zelensky. “Call me,” Sondland replies.
The text messages pick up on Sept. 8, when Sondland says he’s held multiple conversations with Zelensky and Trump.
In that exchange, Taylor says, “The nightmare is [the Ukrainians] give the interview and don’t get the security assistance. The Russians love it. (And I quit.)”
Trump made the comments to …in the same May 2017 meeting where he came under fire for revealing highly classified information that exposed an intelligence source on the Islamic State.
…[Trump] told Lavrov and Kislyak he was unfazed by Moscow’s election interference because America has done the same thing in other countries. He also reportedly said the firing of ex-FBI Director James Comey got rid of “great pressure” on him.
The remarks prompted officials to restrict access to a memo about the meeting to only a “few officials with the highest security clearances” to keep his comments from the public
Speaking in a video on his Instagram account, Gabyshev called Putin “a beast, a fiend of hell, the son of Satan,” and said the purpose of his trip to Moscow was to “exorcise” the Russian leader.
Amnesty said armed and masked law enforcement officials “encircled” Gabyshev’s camp near the village of Vydrino, in the Russian republic of Buyratia, and “took away the shaman” on Thursday.
…Yakutia’s Ministry of Health said on Friday that Gabyshev had been sent to a psychiatric hospital, where he would undergo tests. [Ouch. that cannot be good.]