“I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected.”
“I know how to play it and we will get this done. Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it,” Mr. Sater wrote in the email. “I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.”
"Far less splashy, and far more difficult to trace, was Russia’s experimentation on Facebook and Twitter, the American companies that essentially invented the tools of social media and, in this case, did not stop them from being turned into engines of deception and propaganda.
An investigation by The New York Times, and new research from the cybersecurity firm FireEye, reveals some of the mechanisms by which suspected Russian operators used Twitter and Facebook to spread anti-Clinton messages and promote the hacked material they had leaked. On Wednesday, Facebook officials disclosed that they had shut down several hundred accounts that they believe were created by a Russian company linked to the Kremlin and used to buy $100,000 in ads pushing divisive issues during and after the American election campaign.
On Twitter, as on Facebook, Russian fingerprints are on thousands of fake accounts that regularly posted anti-Clinton messages. Many were automated Twitter accounts, called bots, that sometimes fired off identical messages seconds apart — and in the exact alphabetical order of their made-up names, according to the FireEye researchers. On Election Day, for instance, they found that one group of Twitter bots sent out the hashtag #WarAgainstDemocrats more than 1,700 times.
Russia has been quite open about playing its hacking card. In February last year, at a conference in Moscow, a top cyberintelligence adviser to President Vladimir V. Putin hinted that Russia was about to unleash a devastating information attack on the United States.
“We are living in 1948,” said the adviser, Andrey Krutskikh, referring to the eve of the first Soviet atomic bomb test, in a speech reported by The Washington Post. “I’m warning you: We are at the verge of having something in the information arena that will allow to us to talk to the Americans as equals.”
Mr. Putin’s denials of Russian meddling have been coy. In June, he allowed that “free-spirited” hackers might have awakened in a good mood one day and spontaneously decided to contribute to “the fight against those who say bad things about Russia.” Speaking to NBC News, he rejected the idea that evidence pointed to Russia — while showing a striking familiarity with how cyberattackers might cover their tracks.
In April, Facebook published a public report on information operations using fake accounts. It shied away from naming Russia as the culprit until Wednesday, when the company said it had removed 470 “inauthentic” accounts and pages that were “likely operated out of Russia.” Facebook officials fingered a St. Petersburg company with Kremlin ties called the Internet Research Agency.
Russia deliberately blurs its role in influence operations, American intelligence officials say. Even skilled investigators often cannot be sure if a particular Facebook post or Twitter bot came from Russian intelligence employees, paid “trolls” in Eastern Europe or hackers from Russia’s vast criminal underground. A Russian site called buyaccs.com (“Buy Bulk Accounts at Best Prices”) offers for sale a huge array of pre-existing social media accounts, including on Facebook and Twitter; like wine, the older accounts cost more, because their history makes chicanery harder to spot.
The trail that leads from the Russian operation to the bogus Melvin Redick, however, is fairly clear. United States intelligence concluded that DCLeaks.com was created in June 2016 by the Russian military intelligence agency G.R.U. The site began publishing an eclectic collection of hacked emails, notably from George Soros, the financier and Democratic donor, as well as a former NATO commander and some Democratic and Republican staffers. Some of the website’s language — calling Mrs. Clinton “President of the Democratic Party” and referring to her “electional staff” — seemed to belie its pose as a forum run by American activists.
DCLeaks would soon be followed by a blog called Guccifer 2.0, which would leave even more clues of its Russian origin. Those sites’ posts, however, would then be dwarfed by those from WikiLeaks, which American officials believe got thousands of Democratic emails from Russian intelligence hackers through an intermediary. At each stage, a chorus of dubious Facebook and Twitter accounts — alongside many legitimate ones — would applaud the leaks.
During its first weeks online, DCLeaks drew no media attention. But The Times found that some Facebook users somehow discovered the new site quickly and began promoting it on June 8. One was the Redick account, which posted about DCLeaks to the Facebook groups “World News Headlines” and “Breaking News — World.”
The Redick profile lists Central High School in Philadelphia and Indiana University of Pennsylvania as his alma maters; neither has any record of his attendance. In one of his photos, this purported Pennsylvania lifer is sitting in a restaurant in Brazil — and in another, his daughter’s bedroom appears to have a Brazilian-style electrical outlet."
Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian prosecutor with ties to the Kremlin, was representing the real-estate company Prevezon Holdings in a civil suit filed by the US government in the Southern District of New York when she visited Trump Tower on June 9, 2016.
Prevezon, which is owned by the son of a powerful Russian government official, was part of a parallel criminal investigation, according to court documents filed late last year. A person familiar with the matter told Business Insider that the criminal case was ongoing, corroborating a Bloomberg report published earlier Friday.
Veselnitskaya has staunchly denied discussing the Prevezon case during the Trump Tower meeting. But the developments suggest the stakes for her client were higher than previously known.
In September 2016, Bharara had issued a grand-jury subpoena to Andrei Alekseevich Pavlov - a person "central to the Government's case against Prevezon," according to an emergency appeal filed at the time by Prevezon counsel Michael Mukasey, who wanted to depose him.
Citigroup, Deutsche Bank AG, UBS AG, and TD Bank were also issued grand-jury subpoenas, according to Bloomberg, which did not provide further details.
Grand-jury testimonies are a key stage in a federal criminal investigation. The subpoena issued by Bharara to Pavlov, and provided to Business Insider on Friday, ordered him to hand over documents related to a series of cases connected to the Prevezon investigation.
The subpoena also asked Pavlov to provide "all non-privileged correspondence" with Veselnitskaya and others relevant to the case.
The government's original civil complaint against Prevezon had laid out a complicated money trail stemming from the Russian Treasury, which prosecutors alleged participated in a $230 million tax-fraud scheme from which Prevezon benefited.
The civil case was abruptly settled three days before it was set to go to trial, which raised questions about whether the Justice Department under the newly elected Trump administration had been subject to any pressure to settle.
Since the revelation of the meeting in Trump Tower when Veselnitskaya promised damaging information about Hilary Clinton, many questions have been raised about who she is and how she quickly acquired her wealth.
Veselnitskaya, 42, didn’t respond to interview attempts from CNN to confirm her employment details and income,. But according to two separate Russian financial databases (Larix and Cronos), she went from a salary of $1,559 a year in 1993 to earning $53,645 in 2003. But, what sparked the most curiosity was how she bought pricey properties situated a short distance from Vladimir Putin's presidential residence.
In August 2003, before the lion's share of that $53,645 was earned, the Russian land registry shows that Veselnitskaya was somehow able to buy two large plots of land in an elite residential community in the Moscow suburbs -- properties that cannot have been sold for less than $500,000 apiece at the time, according to two Russian brokers with extensive experience selling in that area.
A majority of her 2003 income was made after she bought the property in DSK Riita estimated to be worth $1 million. Three years later, she built a home on the land, which can be seen in a 2015 promotional video for another home in the neighborhood.
"The cost of developing completed houses in that community in 2006 were in the ballpark of $10 to $12 million," Anya Levitov, a Russian broker told CNN.
If Kremlin-connected, Veselnitskaya’s story would not be unusual, as it’s been known for other well-connected figures to have net-worths far above their incomes. Many have what's colloquially known as a krysha, or 'roof' (as in protection) for whom they do favors in return for gifts.
But, hey.. remember that if we had elected "Killary" we'd be immediately at war with Russia instead of having our election stolen by the Russians for a president who himself , his family, and nearly every member of his campaign and cabinet have lied about their ties to Russians.