At least six people close to Trump almost certainly knew about offers from Russians of dirt on Clinton

at least six members of Trump’s broader team knew about offers of dirt from Russians during that campaign — and, depending on how that information was shared, as many as 10 may have, including Trump.

.. Torshin-Trump Jr. In May, a former member of the Russian parliament named Aleksandr Torshin made repeated efforts to contact Donald Trump Jr., the candidate’s son. He sent multiple emails hoping to set up a meeting with Trump Jr. when both were at a National Rifle Association convention in Kentucky. The two met briefly at a dinner associated with that event. It is not clear whether Torshin had any information to offer Trump Jr.

.. Agalarov-Veselnitskaya-Trump Jr.-Manafort-Kushner.

.. It is apparent that Agalarov and Trump Jr. almost certainly spoke on the phone multiple times before that meeting and that Trump Jr. informed both Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and campaign chairman Paul Manafort of what was being offered.

.. The question is whether any of those three also informed Trump. There is good reason to think he knew. The night that the meeting time was set up, following calls between Trump Jr., Manafort and Kushner — and the day after Trump Jr. had a call with a blocked number before agreeing to the meeting — Trump told reporters, “I am going to give a major speech on probably Monday of next week, and we’re going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons.”

When that dirt did not materialize, the speech about Clinton the following Monday did not either.

.. Dvorkovich-Page.

.. This is noteworthy not only because of the connection between Page and a senior government official but because of what other reports suggest about Page’s time in Russia. Specifically, the controversial dossier of reports compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele includes a report from mid-July alleging that Page met with a Russian official who “rais[ed] a dossier of ‘kompromat’ ” — compromising material — “the Kremlin possessed on TRUMP’s Democratic presidential rival, Hillary CLINTON, and its possible release to the Republican’s campaign team.”

.. WikiLeaks-Trump Jr. The following month, Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks exchanged private messages on Twitter. None of those messages suggest Trump Jr. and the organization coordinated the released of information damaging to Clinton. But the exchange occurred shortly before WikiLeaks began releasing the emails stolen from Podesta in early October.

.. So we are confident the following people were offered or told about information allegedly incriminating Clinton:

  • George Papadopoulos
  • Roger Stone
  • Michael Caputo
  • Donald Trump Jr.
  • Jared Kushner
  • Paul Manafort

It is possible that the following other people knew about or received similar offers, too:

  • Stephen Miller
  • Carter Page
  • J.D. Gordon (if Page was offered dirt)
  • Donald Trump

Trump’s argument has long been that there was no collusion between his campaign and the Russian government. That claim increasingly depends on how one defines “collusion.”

Roger Stone’s and Michael Caputo’s damningly false denials of contact with Russians

.. unlike other previously undisclosed meetings, this one was very, very clearly denied — and repeatedly — by both parties. It was also apparently denied in or at least omitted from their testimonies to congressional investigators.

Although someone like Attorney General Jeff Sessions may have a credible argument that his denials of contact with Russians were the results of misunderstandings, Stone’s and Caputo’s denials were ironclad.

“I didn’t talk to anybody who was identifiably Russian during the two-year run-up to this campaign,” Stone told The Post in April 2017. “I very definitely can’t think of anybody who might have been a Russian without my knowledge. It’s a canard.”

.. Stone reasserted this in a March interview with Chuck Todd. “I never had any contact with any Russians,” he said.

..  Caputo went a step further, saying in emphatic and unmistakable terms that he told the House Intelligence Committee that he had no contact with Russians.

.. “I spent my time in front of the committee detailing the fact that I had no contact with Russians, that I never heard of anyone with the Trump campaign talking with Russians, that I was never asked questions about my time in Russia, that I never even spoke to anyone about Russia, that I never heard the word ‘Russia,’ and we did not use Russian dressing,” he said in July.

.. These denials so contradict what we just found out, in fact, that neither man is trying to parse them to square them with the new information. Instead both — rather remarkably — contend that they simply forgot about the Greenberg proffer until special counsel Robert S. Mueller III reminded them last month. And now both are amending their testimony

.. And it’s pretty clear what’s happening here. This is something that, judging by their conversations with Mueller, they knew was going to come out eventually.

.. And now they have a narrative into which they can insert it, thanks to Trump’s baseless claims about the FBI “spying” on his campaignvia an informant.

.. it looks significantly more like there was a coverup than it did 24 hours ago.

At least six people close to Trump almost certainly knew about offers from Russians of dirt on Clinton

Roger Stone, means that at least six members of Trump’s broader team knew about offers of dirt from Russians during that campaign — and, depending on how that information was shared, as many as 10 may have, including Trump.

.. Papadopoulos sent an email to Trump adviser Stephen Miller the day after Mifsud reached out to him, telling Miller he had some “interesting messages” coming in from Moscow.

.. Trump’s argument has long been that there was no collusion between his campaign and the Russian government. That claim increasingly depends on how one defines “collusion.”

Trump Adviser Roger Stone Now Recalls 2016 Meeting With Russian

Disclosure comes as president’s personal lawyer renews push for Justice Department to investigate Russia probe

Special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into a meeting between longtime Donald Trump adviser Roger Stone and a Russian national during the height of the 2016 presidential campaign, according to Mr. Stone’s friend Michael Caputo, who is a witness in the probe.

Mr. Stone didn’t disclose the meeting, which he says was prompted by an offer of information detrimental to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, in his testimony before congressional investigators in September. He is now alerting House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes (R., Calif.) about it.

.. Mr. Stone’s attorney said the Republican strategist had a “recently refreshed recollection” of the encounter after Mr. Caputo, a former Trump aide who helped arrange the May 2016 meeting, was questioned by Mr. Mueller’s office last month.
.. the Russian man claimed “access to non-specific, damaging Clinton information which he wanted to sell.” He also added that his client declined to pay the $2 million requested
.. he and Mr. Caputo now say they believe it was part of a sting operation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
.. the Russian went by the name Henry Greenberg and that he has a history of working as an FBI informant. Mr. Caputo cited research about the man’s background and alleged ties to U.S. intelligence. The research was commissioned and paid for by Mr. Caputo’s legal defense fund
.. “Few of the Trump team witnesses have proved worthy of being taken at their word,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell (D., Calif.), who serves on the House Intelligence Committee. The revelation about the meeting between Mr. Stone and the Russian national “proves how irresponsible it was for the House Republicans to wrap up our investigation and say nothing to see here,’” Mr. Swalwell said.

Upstairs at home, with the TV on, Trump fumes over Russia indictments

But the president’s celebration was short-lived. A few minutes later, court documents were unsealed showing that George Papadopoulos, an unpaid foreign policy adviser on Trump’s campaign, pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the FBI about his efforts to broker a relationship between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The case provides the clearest evidence yet of links between Trump’s campaign and Russian officials.

 .. But Trump’s anger Monday was visible to those who interacted with him, and the mood in the corridors of the White House was one of weariness and fear of the unknown.
“The walls are closing in,” said one senior Republican in close contact with top staffers who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak candidly. “Everyone is freaking out.”

Trump is also increasingly agitated by the expansion of Mueller’s probe into financial issues beyond the 2016 campaign and about the potential damage to him and his family

.. Trump and his aides were frustrated that, yet again, Russia steamrolled the start of a carefully planned week of policy news. Trump is preparing to nominate a new chairman of the Federal Reserve and is scheduled to depart Friday for a high-stakes, 12-day trip across Asia, and House Republicans are planning to unveil their tax overhaul bill.

.. Away from the podium, Trump staffers fretted privately over whether Manafort or Gates might share with Mueller’s team damaging information about other colleagues. They expressed concern in particular about Gates because he has a young family, may be more stretched financially than Manafort, and continued to be involved in Trump’s political operation and had access to the White House, including attending West Wing meetings after Trump was sworn in.

.. Some White House advisers are unhappy with Thomas J. Barrack Jr., Trump’s longtime friend and chair of his inauguration, whom they hold responsible for keeping Gates in the Trump orbit long after Manafort resigned as campaign chairman in August 2016

..  The president’s inner circle on Russia matters has tightened in recent months. In addition to his lawyers, Trump has been talking mostly with Kelly and members of his family, including Melania, as well as daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, both senior White House advisers. Trump also leans on two senior aides, counselor Kellyanne Conway and communications director Hope Hicks, as well as some outside friends for advice.

.. On Capitol Hill, meanwhile, some of Trump’s allies are privately revving up their own version of a counterattack against Mueller. Several top Republican legislators plan to raise questions in the coming days about the FBI’s handling of a “dossier” detailing alleged ties between Trump and Russian interests. They intend to argue that Mueller’s team has become overly reliant on a document that was funded in part by Democrats, according to two people involved in the discussions. Mueller does not appear to have relied on the dossier for the cases revealed on Monday, however.

.. When the first pair of indictments came naming Manafort and Gates, there was palpable relief inside the West Wing. The 31-page document did not name Trump, nor did it address any possible collusion between Russia and the president’s campaign.

.. Moreover, aides were simply happy that the initial batch of indictments did not include Michael Flynn

.. Flynn had been intimately involved in both the campaign and the early days of the administration, and a Flynn indictment, most staff believed, would have been far more damaging.

.. Michael Caputo, a former campaign adviser who Trump praised on Twitter Monday morning for his appearance on Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends,” later called the indictments “one big, huge fail.”

Russia Probe Takes Financial Toll on Trump Aides

White House and campaign officials have liquidated college savings accounts, set up defense funds

Washington is one of the nation’s costliest legal jurisdictions, with many lawyers charging upward of $1,000 an hour, and several Trump associates have been contacted in connection with multiple ongoing investigations, from Congress to the special counsel’s office.

.. Former Trump campaign aide Michael Caputo, who testified in July before a closed-door hearing of the House Intelligence Committee, said in an interview he has spent around $30,000 on legal bills. He said he liquidated a college fund he had set up for his daughters, including one who is 15 years old.

“My retirement account is next,” Mr. Caputo said, estimating that paying a Washington attorney to represent a witness at one congressional hearing costs around $40,000. He said his costs were lower because he hired a lawyer in upstate New York where he lives.

Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, hires his own lawyer in Russia probe

Michael Cohen, who for years has served as President Trump’s personal attorney, has hired a lawyer of his own to help him navigate the expanding Russia investigation.

.. In January, Cohen was involved in a separate incident that could potentially have drawn the attention of investigators. He has confirmed that he met with a Ukrainian lawmaker at a New York hotel at the urging of a former Trump business associate named Felix Sater. At the meeting, Sater gave Cohen a peace plan that the lawmaker had drawn up for his country that would have paved the way for the lifting of sanctions imposed on Russia after its 2014 military incursion in Ukraine.

.. The New York Times reported that Cohen said he took the plan and left it in the White House office of then national security adviser Michael Flynn.

.. Michael Caputo, a New York-based political operative and radio commentator who served as a senior communications adviser on Trump’s campaign

.. Caputo, who briefly worked for the campaign, was an ally to former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. He lived in Moscow for several years in the 1990s, and briefly held a contract in 2000 with the Russian conglomerate Gazprom Media to improve Russian President Vladimir Putin’s image in the United States.