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Eric Lichtblau vs. Eric Lichtblau: Why is the NYT hiding key information that the FBI knows but claims not to know (and that Lichtblau knows because he played a role in it) about the connection between a Trump organization server and Alpha Server, a huge Russian bank with connections to Putin?

Okay, folks.  Read this entire article, or if you’re short on time, do a word find for “Lichtblau.”  Then read this article in today’s NYT by Eric Lichtblau and Steven Lee Myers.

Then ask, rhetorically, why Lichtblau did not mention in the Times article what happened with the Trump server that the FBI claims is receiving only random marketing spam (but only from Alpha Bank), after Lichtblau called Alpha Bank and inquired about why the Trump server was receiving data from Alpha Bank.

Also ask—rhetorically—why the Times article today simply reports the FBI’s stated reason for concluding that this marketing-spam thing is plausible (and that that’s why they haven’t sought a search warrant for the server?), but doesn’t mention what Lichtblau knows: that the scientists Foer and, as I understand it, Lichtblau have received their information concluded a month or two ago that that explanation is virtually impossible.

Nor does it explain what happened with the Trump server after Lichtblau called Alpha Bank and inquired about why the Trump server was receiving data from Alpha Bank.  

Who in the FBI decided to accept that explanation, despite the fact that at least one of the scientists who told Foer that that explanation is highly implausible also works under contract for … the FBI or one of the other agencies working on the matter?

Lotsa rhetorical questions to ask, actually.  Start asking them, folks.  And not just ones for the New York Times.


UPDATE: Gotta say, Comey comes off in this Washington Post article today as dumber than a rock.

Added 11/1 at 1:32 p.m.


SECOND UPDATE: Reader JackD and I just had the following exchange in the Comments thread:

JackD / November 1, 2016 2:26 pm

Dailykos is currently reporting that the FBI is releasing its closed investigative files regarding the Clinton Foundation and Bill Clinton’s pardon of Mark Rich. Come supervised the latter as it concluded. I suppose it could just be a coincidence. I didn’t know the FBI released its closed files that do not result in criminal action. The timing certainly stinks and could be relevant to a finding of Comey’s intent for Hatch Act purposed.


Me / November 1, 2016 3:16 pm

Hmmm. Who knew that the REAL purpose of the FBI is to use its investigative authority to help the Republican Party regain the WH and hold the Senate and House? Guess Comey did, but I sure didn’t. Until now.

Jack, the Foer revelations ARE now getting some real news media attention, as is the CNBC report from yesterday that Comey argued against release of the report in early Oct. that the Russians clearly are behind the Dem hackings and that the purpose is to influence the election.

I think what Comey’s up to is a preemptive distraction from probable imminent leaks that the FBI buried their own scientists’ conclusions that that Trump server in fact was communicating with Alpha Bank–and that the FBI declined to request a search warrant to confiscate the server. There’s no longer any danger of a breach-of-national-security charge against the leaker for release of classified info. The info about the server is now out there.

But just think about this: Comey knows that a Trump server at a minimum may be, and very likely is, communicating with Alpha Bank very, very secretly, using very elaborate techniques, and has been doing so since last spring. Yet he’s releasing raw investigative info shortly before the election, and during early voting in more than 20 states, in order to help Trump and down-ballot Republicans win election.

This is the FBI Director we’re talking about here.

And he’s not even named Hoover.  Or so he claims.

Added 11/1 at 3:29 p.m.

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Tea Leaves and Alpha Bank – UPDATED 11/1

Read this.  JUST. READ. IT.

The article, by Franklin Foer, published on Slate at 5:36 p.m., is titled “Was a Trump Server Communicating With Russia?”

This is big.  So big you’ll get sick of big.

Believe me.


UPDATE: This is a very long article, and I hadn’t finished it when I posted this.  Now that I’ve finished it, I seems extremely likely to me that this is the information that Harry Reid was referencing in his letter to Comey yesterday.  If so, this is just stunning–that the FBI has withheld this information from the public, yet Comey waited a nanosecond after learning of the emails on Weiner’s computer to announce it to the public even without knowing what they actually were.

Did Comey know last Friday that this news was about to break?  Did that play into his decision to make that information public?

The plot sickens.  In any event, it does seem that the info Reid wanted so badly to become public, now has, as of tonight.  This is the “explosive information” that he was referencing in that letter.  Near the end of the Foer article, he discusses the role that two NYT reporters, Eric Lichtblau an Steven Lee Myers, who also were chasing the story, played in the actual substantive events in September when they made their investigation known to Alpha Bank.  And the Times reporters were in contact with Foer today, right after the Slate article was published. There should be a major story on this in tomorrow’s Times; I would think so, anyway.

But I hope one of these journalists, or another one, asks the computer scientists they’ve been working with if they think there’s a way to determine whether the same crowd that is communicating via the setup described in the article also played  role in the appearance of tens of thousands of Huma Amedin’s personal emails on the hard drive of Weiner’s computer.  And whether that is why Trump suddenly late last summer started claiming that Weiner had access to Abedin’s State Dept. emails.

Tomorrow should be an interesting day.

Added 10/31 at 10:14 p.m.



SECOND UPDATE: Reader Noni Mausa and I just exchanged these comments in the Comments thread this morning:

Noni Mausa / November 1, 2016 10:06 am

I have wondered for some years how long it will be till computer files, images, and emails lose their evidential status, given the expanding abilities of hackers — the digital equivalent of planting drugs or stolen goods in someone’s home is becoming rapidly more plausible.

As for the NYT article, I of course have no firsthand knowledge, (how many of us do? that’s why we have reporters). but the bona fides of the hacker-hunters sound bona fide to me. If messages of some sort were passing between a large Russian bank and Trump’s headquarters, with their frequency responsive to electoral events stateside, at the very least this seems an indication of common interests, whether financial or political. Even if they were “innocently” tied to ordinary financial dealings, this is still of deep concern when the presidency comes into it.

I dare say, since the dedicated mutual traffic on the server on Trump’s end has now gone dark, we will probably not be able to ever know the details of the Trump-Alfa conversation. Stay tuned for another half-dozen conspiracy theories, of which one, the least plausible, will be true, plus at least two major motion pictures.


Me / November 1, 2016 10:26 am

Wow. Noni, you raise a really interesting point about the Trump server. Based on all that stuff reported about retrieving stuff from Clinton’s server, I think the FBI COULD retrieve info from that server.

Soooo … if this is the stuff Reid WAS referring to by “explosive information” that the FBI is sitting on, has the FBI sought a search warrant to confiscate the server? If nor, why not? And if the FBI did NOT know of the server–something that seems unlikely, given that at least one of the scientists who provided the info to Foer, the Slate journalist, apparently works as a contractor for the FBI, and given that these scientists have been trying since last June to attract some media attention to their Reddit posts–will the FBI NOW IMMEDIATELY REQUEST A SEARCH WARRANT TO CONFISCATE THE SERVER? AND WILL THE FBI, UM, ANNOUNCE THAT, BEFORE THE ELECTION?

Harry Reid should hold a press conference on this. TODAY.

Updated 11/1 at 11:05 a.m.

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Do be sure to watch this video news clip on CNBC, folks

The first part of the video news clip (h/t Paul Waldman), by CNBC correspondent Eamon Javers, is smoking-gun stunning.  And sickening.  Just watch the video or read the accompanying article.

The second part of it, which is a clip of White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, sure seems to me that for all his hesitation and careful wording, Earnest hints that Obama will fire Comey right after the election.

As for me, I want to forcefully retract my suggestion in this post yesterday that NYC FBI agents working on the Weiner case may have planted the emails of Weiner’s computer.

When I wrote that post, the reporting was that the emails at issue numbered about 1,000.  Today it is reported that they number in the tens of thousands—a number almost certainly not within the capacity of investigative FBI agents who are not computer forensics experts to gain access to and put onto a hard drive without it being obvious that that is what happened.  And it’s also now been reported that the agents knew of the emails on the laptop shortly after they took custody of it; the emails were on the hard drive shortly after the FBI took custody of it.

I wrote that post in reaction to the report early yesterday that Abedin has told friends and colleagues that she does not know how the emails came to be on Weiner’s personal computer–something that rings awfully likely to be true, given the enormous number of her personal emails that are now on Weiner’s personal computer.

I wrote here today that in light of today’s information, it appears far more likely that it was Russia that pulled this off than that it was an FBI-agent job.

The Oct. 7 report issued jointly by the NSA and Homeland Security Department stating their conclusion that Russia is responsible for the massive hacks of emails of the Democratic Nationals Committee, Clinton campaign officials and other organizations connected to Clinton or the Democratic Party, and was done with the intent to disrupt the national election—which is the focus of the CNBC report and is quoted in the video—has received almost no attention from the press.

That, I trust, will change now.  Oh, the irony.

Although, of course, you never know.

So Clinton and the Democrats should run ads showing that CNBC clip.  Big ad buys for it on the internet and TV would be good.

And BTW, the CNBC little bombshell nails it that Harry Reid was right about Comey and the Hatch Act, in my opinion.

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Who ARE those other people, Mr. Trump? Do tell.

I am now going to the brand new Trump International Hotel D.C. for a major statement.

— Donald Trump, twitter, Sept. 16 at 9:23 a.m.

And so he did, as all the world will remember.  That’s when, and where, he made his trumpeted “birther”-renouncement statement—er, his internationally televised ad for his new D.C. hotel.

The “where” being the operative word in that sentence.  And the “for his new D.C. hotel” being not an accurate reflection of who actually owns it.

At a campaign appearance in North Carolina on Tuesday, in comments that should have received wide attention, not just from the news media but also from Clinton, Trump elaborated on whom the Trump International Hotel D.C actually belongs to: “other people”.  Here’s how CNN began its online text report on that campaign appearance:

Kenansville, North Carolina (CNN)Donald Trump bragged Tuesday there’s “nothing like” using other people’s money, hours after a report said he used more than $250,000 from his charitable organization to litigate lawsuits against his business interests.

Trump, while calling for building safe zones in Syria financed by Gulf states, vaunted the benefits of doing business with “OPM.”

“It’s called OPM. I do it all the time in business. It’s called other people’s money,” Trump said. “There’s nothing like doing things with other people’s money because it takes the risk — you get a good chunk out of it and it takes the risk.”

Simply pointing out, again and again, that Trump is breaking with four decades of tradition in refusing to make public any of his or his company’s tax returns; simply pointing out Trump’s companies’ six bankruptcies; pointing out that his comments about Putin (not least that he has a reciprocal-compliments relationship with Putin, and Putin’s relationship with Russia’s oligarchs who invest in Trump real estate (or whatever it was that Donald Jr. was saying at the 2008 seminar)?  These, independently, don’t register with most of the public, apparently.

But how about running ads in swing states tying all these together with the bowtie called OPM, and Trump’s Sept. 16 personal ad for the new hotel that bears his name but to which the in-name-only label applies?  Russian oligarchs, after all, could tie President Trump in knots—should they threaten to, say, pull their financing from “his” real estate properties.

Unless of course the other people’s money comes without strings attached. Or balloon loan repayments that can be called at any time.

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Donald Trump says that if the leader of ISIS compliments him, he’ll compliment the leader of ISIS right back.

If [Putin] says great things about me, I’m going to say great things about him.

–Donald J. Trump, speaking to Matt Lauer during interview, Sept. 7

I didn’t watch the debacle Wednesday, and that line by Trump is one I hadn’t read about until just now.

But now that I know about it, it occurs to me that it’s a good thing Donald Trump wasn’t president or British prime minister in, say, 1939.  There was, of course, Neville Chamberlain, but I don’t think Peace For Our Time was maintained for a few extra months before Hitler marched into Poland because Hitler said great things about Chamberlain.

Although maybe that would have worked had Hitler thought of trying it. It could have cut down on the negotiating time in Munich that resulted in the Pact.  By a lot, I guess.


UPDATE:  Okay.  I just posted this in the Comments thread in response to, well, comments in the thread:

Lordy, folks.  The Chamberlain reference was intended as a flip joke.  I had thought that “but I don’t think Peace For Our Time was maintained for a few extra months before Hitler marched into Poland because Hitler said great things about Chamberlain” would be recognized for what it was intended to allude to: that Chamberlain based his action on extremely serious facts—England needed time to build a war machine, which notwithstanding the increasingly obvious threat it had not done because of overwhelming resistance to the very thought of war among Brits in the wake of WWI—not on the basis of some personal ego thing.

I didn’t expect most readers to know that Britain badly needed to buy time, or so Chamberlain presumed, since it had very little in the way of military capacity then.  But I did expect people to get that my point was that no leader or would-be leader in his or her right mind would base foreign policy decisions on some opposing leader’s personal compliments to him or her.

C’mon, guys.  Seriously ….

Hope that takes care of it.

Meanwhile, I just read that Hillary Clinton became ill today at a 9/11 memorial event in Manhattan today.  I hope she’s okay.  I hope she’s okay.

Added 9/11 at 2:23 p.m.

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Trump Invites China to Hack His Emails—and Uncover All the Details of His Business Ties to Russian Oligarchs. Cool!

Well, by now y’all know that Donald Trump held a press conference today at which he invited Russia to hack into Hillary Clinton’s email server and retrieve the 33,000 emails she deleted.  When questioned about the propriety of encouraging anyone—much less a foreign power—to commit cybertheft, he said Russia probably already had the emails and that, if so, they should release them.

When asked whether it troubled him to urge the release of stolen information, Trump said … well, you the answer.

Okay, so Russia has his back, front, sides and center.  Which must be comforting for him, if not for us.  China, on the other hand … doesn’t.  Not in the same way, anyway.  And China’s hack expertise would make Russia’s look like high school computer lab class, I’d guess.

It’s hardly a secret—except to most American voters—that Trump has extensive business interests with very wealthy Russians, and wants to partner with Russians in businesses in Russia itself.*

So here’s where China comes in: Just today, Trump made it official that he won’t be releasing his tax returns, so you can stop holding your breadth.  But copies of his tax returns, not to mention other evidence of his financial dependence, probably are on Trump’s personal or business computers.  The obtaining and release of copies of them—including emails between Trump and his son Donald Jr., and Trump and his lawyers, and Trump and his accountants, and Trump and the oligarchs—would, to borrow from a comment of Trump’s at the press conference, be highly rewarded by the media.

And also to borrow from Trump’s comments today, I want to see them.

But of course Hillary Clinton, not being Donald Trump and all, can’t openly invite China to do this.  So I will.  I’m not Trump either, of course.  But I am just swapping out one country for another, and one U.S. presidential candidate for another.

And Trump did start it.  So it’s okay for me to do this, right?


CORRECTION: *Paragraph edited significantly for accuracy. 7/28 at 11:41 a.m.

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The New World ORDER

Paul Krugman has a terrific column today titled “Donald Trump, the Siberian Candidate,” but really he suggests that Trump is the Manchurian candidate. Krugman suggests that Trump is actually fronting for Putin on the world stage. I think he’s right.

The only difference between the Manchurian candidate in the movie and Donald Trump is that Trump, unlike the movie character, would be doing what he would be doing completely consciously and wittingly. In a word: treason. Or something darn close to it.

This is jarringly serious stuff.

I think the Clinton campaign and the Dem Party would be crazy not to run a series of ads, and soon, making and an elaborating on the points Krugman makes in that column, first and foremost Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s longtime ties to Putin folks and to other rightwing dictators.  There also should be footage of Soviet armored tanks marching into Czechoslovakia in 1968 and Hungary in the mid-1950s.

I also think they should run ads juxtaposing video of Trump making some of his fascist-like statements (and pointing out that Trump repeatedly threatens the press, bars unfriendly media organizations from covering his events when he can) with footage of Adolph Hitler’s speeches in the early and mid-1930s.  There certainly are significant similarities.

The ads should flash the slogan “The New World Order.”  They should actually illustrate what type of order Trump has in mind.

This has crossed a line, and needs to become a major part of Clinton’s and the Dems’ campaign.  I’m not sure—at all—that the Clinton, which strikes me as just as slow-footed as Clinton herself—is up to the task of recognizing and dealing with this, though.

And I do think, notwithstanding the gist of the comments in the comments in the Comments thread, that as a political matter I was right in what I said here yesterday.  But, really, only if Clinton and her campaign actually inform the public of these specifics.  And I don’t mean just via Twitter.


UPDATE: The ad banner immediately above this post is from the Trump campaign, showing Trump with his right arm raised chest-high and his hand pointing forward and off toward the right.  It inaugurates what apparently is his campaign’s brand new slogan: Leading the Way.

Yes; exactly.  Clinton, her campaign and the Dem Party need to illustrate what Trump is leading the way toward.

Added 7/22 at 10:29 a.m.

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