We are frankly far, far past the point of no return.  This story of Russia is simply not going away, people who are resistant need to get used to that fact because almost everyday we learn more incriminating facts about how various members of the Trump administration have behaved in relation to Russia.

But, still there are those who claim that in and of itself nothing has “proven” that the Trump administration has done anything illegal, in exchange, in collusion or in coordination with Russia.

As I will discuss, there may not yet be the definitive “smoking gun” — but there is so much smoke that almost any other possibility has been virtually obliterated.

Let me state up front that the claim that there was “No crime” committed is simply false. Cyber Espionage is a Felony punishable by up to 10-years in prison.  Collaborating or cooperating with a felon is known as conspiracy and is punishable by up to five years in prison.

If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

So providing support, any support, to anyone who has committed a felony, is also a felony.  Even when that supports happens after the initial criminal act.

Whoever, knowing that an offense against the United States has been committed, receives, relieves, comforts or assists the offender in order to hinder or prevent his apprehension, trial or punishment, is an accessory after the fact.

Except as otherwise expressly provided by any Act of Congress, an accessory after the fact shall be imprisoned not more than one-half the maximum term of imprisonment or (notwithstanding section 3571) fined not more than one-half the maximum fine prescribed for the punishment of the principal, or both; or if the principal is punishable by life imprisonment or death, the accessory shall be imprisoned not more than 15 years.

When it comes to direct definitive evidence that this may have occurred within the Trump campaign the closest items we have come either from Intel intercepts of conversations between the Russians about Trump and associates, and various reports from persons familiar with those conversations.  

From foreign intel services we have this claim: Investigators now have ‘concrete evidence’ of collusion between Trump camp and Russian government.

A source close to the investigation into President Donald Trump’s campaign and its ties to Russia says that there is now “specific concrete and corroborative evidence” that individuals within Trump’s immediate orbit coordinated with Russian intelligence operatives during the election.

The Guardian said on Thursday that the U.K.’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has been watching the Trump camp since late 2015, having noticed suspicious “interactions” between Trump associates and well-known Russian agents.

From U.S. intelligence we have documentation of at least 18 meetings and communications between Trump associates and Russian Government and Intelligence prior to the inauguration. 

WASHINGTON — Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.

American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election.

The officials interviewed in recent weeks said that, so far, they had seen no evidence of such cooperation.

Repeated communications with “No evidence of cooperation” has been the line we’ve heard from James Comey and from former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper — but what Clapper has stated is that he wasn’t specifically informed that FBI was even investigating —  where as former CIA Director James Brennen said he did see “suspicious communications” between Trump and Russia and that he’d referred it to the FBI.

“I’m aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts on such individuals,” Brennan told members of the House Intelligence Committee.

And it raised questions in my mind whether or not the Russians were able to gain the cooperation of those individuals,” he added. “I don’t know whether or not such collusion existed. I don’t know. But I know there was a sufficient basis of information to require investigation by the [FBI] to determine whether or not U.S. persons were actively conspiring, colluding with Russian officials.”

It appears that that those person at the top of the chain, don’t currently have the specifics of what was said during these intelligence intercepts.   It’s understandable that that would be the case because compartmentalizing the information is part of what keeps it safe, and any information that is revealed also partially reveals how that information was gathered meaning future information gathering might be blocked once targets are aware they’ve been surveilled.  Still some reports from within the NSA have indicated that some of the content of those communications are explosive: “He Will Die in Jail.”

On Wednesday, former NSA intelligence analyst John Schindler provided some insight into the reaction of national security officials.

Now we go nuclear,” he wrote on Twitter. “[Intelligence community] war going to new levels. Just got an [email from] senior [intelligence community] friend, it began: ‘He will die in jail.'”

“US intelligence is not the problem here,” Schindler added in another tweet. “The President’s collusion with Russian intelligence is. Many details, but the essence is simple.”

Unless the issue grows serious enough for either U.S. or foreign intelligence personnel to be willing to risk a severe security breach, which could either confirm coordination between the Russians and Trump or disprove it — we aren’t likely to hear the exact details of these 18 conversations unless the people who had them come forward and tell us truthfully.  Half those people are Russians and the other half work for Donald Trump, so I’m not really holding my breath on that happening.

This leaves us, for the time being, at a stalemate.

The tie-breaker though may not be to have the specific conversations but to watch the behavior of the individuals involved and see if they do things that simply don’t make sense unless they’re doing them as part of an agreement, as part of a plan, and that they then deny and lie about what they’ve done because they don’t want that agreement revealed.  In short, is their a strong circumstantial case for possible coordination that might compel intel agencies to reveal the details of these conversations?

Perhaps.

The prime example right now on how or what the Russia/Trump coordination and agreement might be comes largely from the Dossier put together by former Mi-6 officer Christopher Steele, much of which remains unconfirmed, but which also alleges much of the following which does seem to be true. [Dated by when that particular memo was published, not when the event occured.]

  • June 20, 2016—
    • Russian regime has been cultivating, supporting and assisting Trump for at least 5 years. Aim, endorsed by Putin, has been to encourage splits and divisions in the Western alliance. 
    • Source A stated that Kremlin has been feeding Trump and his team valuable intel on his opponents including Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for several years.  This was confirmed by Source D, a close associate of Trump’s who had organized his recent trips to Moscow noting Russian Intel had been “very helpful”.
  • July 19, 2016 — 
    • Trump associate admits Kremlin behind recent appearance of DNC emails on Wikileaks as means of plausible deniability.
    • Agreed exchange of information in both directions, Trump teams using moles within DNC and US hackers as well as Russian. Russians receiving intel on oligarchs living in US and their families.
    • Source E, an ethnic Russian close associate of Trump, states Manafort was using Carter Page and others as intermediaries.
    • In return Trump has agreed to sideline Russian intervention in Ukraine as a campaign issue and raises US/NATO defense commitments in the Baltic and Eastern Europe to deflect attention from Ukraine, which is a high priority for Putin.
    • A source close to Rosneft President Igor Sechin confided details of a secret meeting with Carter Page, where they discuss bilateral energy cooperation dependent lifting of the Russian sanctions.
  • July 26, 2016 —
    • Russia has an extensive program of state-sponsored offensive cyber operations. External targets includes foreign government and big corporations, especially banks
  • August 10, 2016 — 
    • Trump campaign insiders report recent DNC emails leaks aimed at switching Sanders  (protest) voters away from Clinton and over to Trump.
  • August 22, 2016 -—
    • Ex-Ukraining President Yanakovych confides to Putin that he authorize kick-back payments to Manafort, assures Putin there is no documentary evidence/trail.
  • September 14, 2016 —
    • Russian Diplomat [Kalugin] withdrawn from US due to closeness to US Presidents operation and veterans pension payments ruse.
  • October 12, 2016 —
    • Trump supported by Kremlin because he’s seen as disruptive anti-establishment figure who would shake-up the current international status quo in Russia’s favor.
    • Putin disappointed that Clinton hacked emails had not had a greater impact on election.
  • October 18, 2016 —
    • Close associate of Sechin elaborated on his meeting with Carter Page, stating Sechin had offered a stake in the sale of 19% of Rosneft stock in exchange for Trump lifting Russia sanctions. Page had expressed interest, and said if Trump were elected he would lift sanctions.
  • October 19, 2016 — 
    • Importance of Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who wife is Russian, had grown after departure of Manafort.
  • December 13, 2016 — 
    • Allegations that Cohen had facilited shutdown of Romanian Hacking operations, and organized payouts to allow operatives to “go to ground” and cover their tracks in the case of a Hillary win.

This is core of what Steele alleges, and there is much more but I’ve only included that which seems to have been somewhat confirmed as potentially plausible from outside observation.  

It is indeed confirmed that Russian intelligence services were behind the intrusions into the DNC and John Podesta’s emails. 

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One question had been answered: there was definitely someone rummaging around the DNC servers. But who? CrowdStrike checked its records, seeing whether the methods used for the hack matched any they already had on record. They did. Two groups, working independently, were secreting away information, including private correspondence, email databases and, reportedly, opposition research files on Donald Trump. "We realised that these actors were very well known to us," Alperovitch says. This is because of a handful of small but significant tells: data exfiltrated to an IP address associated with the hackers; a misspelled URL; and time zones related to Moscow. "They were called FANCY BEAR and COZY BEAR, and we could attribute them to the Russian government."

Both the groups had a long rap sheet. COZY BEAR - which had been inside the DNC's system since the summer of 2015 - had previously hacked the White House and the US State Department. FANCY BEAR - which had breached the network separately in April 2016 - had hacked victims across the world, including the German Bundestag. The vulnerabilities were quickly closed, but the damage had already been done.

intel agencies have stated that the timing and persons involved in some of other Steele reports of events have been confirmed

Mr Kalugin was withdrawn from his role in the economic section of Russia's Washington embassy in August 2016, and subsequently returned to Moscow.

However, the McClatchy publishing company has reported two sources with knowledge of “multi-agency investigations” into Kremlin influence on the US elections, have confirmed that Mr Kalugin was under scrutiny when he departed.

The revelation came as it emerged that Mr Trump met with Russia’s US ambassador last April at the height of the presidential election, despite his repeated and strenuous denials of any meeting with Kremlin officials before his inauguration in January.

Other communications between Trump associates and Russian Intelligence operatives during the campaign, have been confirmed at least in regards to Manafort.

WASHINGTON — Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.

The officials said the intercepted communications were not limited to Trump campaign officials, and included other associates of Mr. Trump. On the Russian side, the contacts also included members of the government outside of the intelligence services, they said. All of the current and former officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the continuing investigation is classified.

The officials said that one of the advisers picked up on the calls was Paul Manafort, who was Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman for several months last year and had worked as a political consultant in Ukraine. The officials declined to identify the other Trump associates on the calls.

It’s also true that Manafort was forced to leave the Trump campaign after a ledger was discovered indicating he’d taken $12 Million cash payment from Yanakovych under the table.

Handwritten ledgers show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments designated for Mr. Manafort from Mr. Yanukovych’s pro-Russian political party from 2007 to 2012, according to Ukraine’s newly formed National Anti-Corruption Bureau. Investigators assert that the disbursements were part of an illegal off-the-books system whose recipients also included election officials.

Although the claims that Michael Cohen travel to Prague have proven untrue, and that it may have been a different Michael Cohen, the allegations of Carter Page going to Russia are true.  He did go just before the Republican National Convention and his trip was approved by Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

President Trump's campaign team granted permission for then-adviser on national security issues Carter Page to visit Moscow last July where he delivered a speech criticizing U.S. sanctions against Russia.

Page on Tuesday confirmed that a representative of the Trump campaign approved the trip in June, telling him he could make the trip as a private citizen, not a representative of the campaign.

During his trip to Russia last summer, Page stayed for three days and met with scholars and professors following his graduation speech.

Page added that he was not aware of having spoken to any Russian intelligence officials, but that it was "possible" he could have spoken to a Russian military veteran but did not know it at the time.

Page said he did not talk about U.S. sanctions on Russia, though he is on the record opposing the Crimea sanctions. He did not deny talking about the U.S. presidential election.

So we have confirmation of information related to Kalugin, Manafort and Page, if not Cohen.  Obviously they all deny wrongdoing.  Steele’s theory is that Page acted as a go between to arrange for the Trump campaign to push down support for Ukraine, but is that borne out in their behavior following last July?

Well, yes, because the only portion of the RNC platform that anyone in the Trump campaign made a big deal out of was the push to support arming the Ukrainians against pro-Russian forces.  And then they lied about it for months.

Trump campaign Chairman Paul Manafort expressly denied his campaign had any role in changing the language of the Republican Party's platform on Ukraine.

"It absolutely did not come from the Trump campaign," Manafort told NBC's "Meet the Press".
 

Manafort, who has ties to ousted Ukrainian Prime Minister Victor Yanukovich, also denied having a personal role in altering the platform, saying "I had none. In fact, I didn't even hear of it until after our convention was over."

During the convention, the RNC eliminated specific calls to provide arms to Ukraine in its fight with Russia, "after Trump surrogates reportedly intervened," according to the L.A. Times. The platform also weakened language criticizing Russia for intervening in Ukraine.

Trump also denied they had anything to do with this.

x

Trump: I had not involvement in that, I heard it happened by I had no involvement in that.

Yet the truth is that this change was ordered by Donald Trump himself and implemented by J.D. Gordon.

The Trump campaign's national-security policy representative for the Republican National Convention, J.D. Gordon, told CNN on Thursday that he pushed to alter an amendment to the GOP's draft policy on Ukraine at the Republican National Convention last year to further align it with President Donald Trump's views.

In January, Gordon told Business Insider that he "never left" his "assigned side table" nor spoke publicly at the GOP national security subcommittee meeting, where the amendment — which originally called for "providing lethal defense weapons" to the Ukrainian army to fend off Russian-backed separatists — was read aloud, debated, and ultimately watered down to "providing appropriate assistance" to Ukraine.

According to CNN's Jim Acosta, however, Gordon said that at the RNC he and others "advocated for the GOP platform to include language against arming Ukrainians against pro-Russian rebels" because "this was in line with Trump's views, expressed at a March national security meeting at the unfinished Trump hotel" in Washington, DC.

"Gordon says Trump said at the meeting ... that he didn't want to go to 'World War Three' over Ukraine," Acosta said.

Trump’s general support for Russia isn’t a secret, it’s not even a mystery — So why did Gordon and Manafort and Trump himself all lie about this for so long? Perhaps it has to do with the timing of this platform change.

That’s how things took place. That right there looks a lot like “coordination” to me. This looks like the DCleaks acted as a teaser, “Look what we have!” Page going to Moscow plus Kislyak meeting Trump, Sessions, Gordon and Page could be a coincidence, or they could have made a deal. “We help the Trump campaign by dumping dirt on Hillary and you support Russian goals with Ukraine and lifting the sanctions over Crimea.” The Trumpsters held up their end of the deal by changing the RNC platform and immediately after that comes the big dump of emails torpedoing the DNC and Hillary’s campaign with Sander’s supporters undermining their ability to build unity within the party.

That’s a plausible explanation for why they lied about being the ones to soften the platform. No, we have no audio proof that any such deal was made, but their behavior suggest they had a consciousness of guilt about their actions.

And we’ve seen that pattern continue.

Sessions actually met Kislyak twice in situations where he was acting as part of the Trump campaign, in addition to his private meeting with him in his Senate Offices — and lied about it under oath. Sessions didn’t put these meetings on his security clearance forms.

Michael Flynn didn’t document his meetings and calls with Kislyak on his security forms, he didn’t get permission before he took $45,000 from RT and $11,000 from Russian cyber-security firm Kaspersky Labs, as well as another $530,000 as a lobbyist for Turkey. He then lied to the FBI and Vice President about discussing sanctions for hacking that Obama placed on Russia with Kislyak — which is what led to him getting fired and is also a violation of the Logan Act, as would be any promises or arrangements with foreign nationals to undermine U.S. policy by private individuals.

Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

Jared Kushner also didn’t document on his security clearance application his meetings with Kislyak or his meetings along with Bannon & Flynn with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi — who later met again with Eric Prince in the UAE — his meeting with Sergei Gorka head of Russia’s VEB bank, who was a graduate of the FSB Academy, and had an undercover Russia Spy working at his company until he was discovered and prosecuted in 2015 for conspiracy to co-opt U.S. businessmen like Carter Page into working for the Russians were all undisclosed.

Besides lying to the FBI, leaving out relevant information on the SF-86 security forms is also a Felony.

18 U.S.C. § 1001
(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully

  1. falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;
  2. makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or
  3. makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry; shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331), imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both. If the matter relates to an offense under chapter 109A, 109B, 110, or 117, or section 1591, then the term of imprisonment imposed under this section shall be not more than 8 years
Why exactly would all of these people simultaneous falsify all these forms if they thought that the discovery of the meetings, and what was discussed at these meetings was a greater risk than prison?
Maybe because 15 years for being an accessory after the fact is more frightening then lying on the forms and facing 8 years for it.
Other problems with Kushner besides his odd attempt to establish a secure back-channel to the Kremlin in order to circumvent U.S intelligence and surveillance (which may also be a Logan Act violation since it was an attempt to circumvent U.S. intellegence), stem from his work during the campaign with voter micro-targeting through social media.

Television and online advertising? Small and smaller. Twitter and Facebook would fuel the campaign, as key tools for not only spreading Trump's message but also targeting potential supporters, scraping massive amounts of constituent data and sensing shifts in sentiment in real time.
...

This wasn't a completely raw startup. Kushner's crew was able to tap into the Republican National Committee's data machine, and it hired targeting partners like Cambridge Analytica to map voter universes and identify which parts of the Trump platform mattered most: trade, immigration or change. Tools like Deep Root drove the scaled-back TV ad spending by identifying shows popular with specific voter blocks in specific regions--say, NCIS for anti-ObamaCare voters or The Walking Dead for people worried about immigration. Kushner built a custom geo-location tool that plotted the location density of about 20 voter types over a live Google Maps interface.

Soon the data operation dictated every campaign decision: travel, fundraising, advertising, rally locations--even the topics of the speeches. "He put all the different pieces together," Parscale says. "And what's funny is the outside world was so obsessed about this little piece or that, they didn't pick up that it was all being orchestrated so well."

Kushner has taken quite a bit of credit for this, but it also happens to be exactly the same blueprint for social media exploitation that was outlined by a Putin friendly Russian Think Tank in June of 2016.

A Russian government think tank controlled by Vladimir Putin developed a plan to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine voters’ faith in the American electoral system, three current and four former U.S. officials told Reuters.

They described two confidential documents from the think tank as providing the framework and rationale for what U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded was an intensive effort by Russia to interfere with the Nov. 8 election. U.S. intelligence officials acquired the documents, which were prepared by the Moscow-based Russian Institute for Strategic Studies [en.riss.ru/], after the election.

It recommended the Kremlin launch a propaganda campaign on social media and Russian state-backed global news outlets to encourage U.S. voters to elect a president who would take a softer line toward Russia than the administration of then-President Barack Obama, the seven officials said.

A second institute document, drafted in October and distributed in the same way, warned that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was likely to win the election. For that reason, it argued, it was better for Russia to end its pro-Trump propaganda and instead intensify its messaging about voter fraud to undermine the U.S. electoral system’s legitimacy and damage Clinton’s reputation in an effort to undermine her presidency, the seven officials said.

It’s is a bit odd that Russian think-tanks plan seems to be almost exactly what Jared Kushner did with Cambridge Analytics, which is owned by Robert Mercer the primary money person behind Breitbart News which repeatedly mirrored stories pushed by Kremlin media outlets RT and Sputnik News.

A link that is being looked into by the FBI.

WASHINGTON — Federal investigators are examining whether far-right news sites played any role last year in a Russian cyber operation that dramatically widened the reach of news stories — some fictional — that favored Donald Trump's presidential bid, two people familiar with the inquiry say.

Operatives for Russia appear to have strategically timed the computer commands, known as "bots," to blitz social media with links to the pro-Trump stories at times when the billionaire businessman was on the defensive in his race against Democrat Hillary Clinton, these sources said.

The bots' end products were largely millions of Twitter and Facebook posts carrying links to stories on conservative internet sites such as Breitbart News and InfoWars, as well as on the Kremlin-backed RT News and Sputnik News, the sources said. Some of the stories were false or mixed fact and fiction, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the bot attacks are part of an FBI-led investigation into a multifaceted Russian operation to influence last year's elections.

Not only did bots and trolls push RT and Sputnik News propaganda so did Trump and Manafort. And RT timed their releases for just when it would be the most help, or do the most damage.

That looks even more like “Coordination” to me. Even if we don’t have them saying the words “let’s do this together”, we have them implementing the Russian plan in almost perfect unison. It’s almost impossible that this was entirely an accident. Even if you ignore all of the fairly clear evidence of Trump’s attempt to obstruct and bully former FBI Director Comey into dropping the investigation into Flynn and Russia, or whether these efforts and the fake Lynch email note may have prompted Comey to blast Hillary Clinton publicaly when exonerating her of wrong-doing and write the Abedine email letter even though they were all duplicates changed the result of the election or not, it really seems that this is merely getting worse and worse, day by day.

The odds of this being a mere set of unfortunate coincidences, just unhappy happenstance is shrinking daily, and the odds that US and Foreign Intel services will see now choice but to release the details on the Trump/Russia conversations they’ve been holding onto are growing even more rapidly.