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CrowdStrike and the DNC continue to hide their “Russian hacker evidence” from investigators

The “hacked DNC server” is unavailable to Russia investigators, and CrowdStrike is at the center of the scandal.

Alex Christoforou

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By now it is common knowledge that, CrowdStrike, the cyber-security company hired by the DNC to investigate whether its servers were hacked by “the Russians” acted in a biased manner…hired by the DNC to look for “Russian hackers” and behold, finding “Russian hackers.”

It is also now common knowledge that CrowdStrike passed on its findings to the FBI for which a case was then presented to the American public that Russia hacked the DNC servers…problem was that the FBI relied solely on CrowdStrikes analysis of the server.

The FBI was never given permission by the DNC, to take a look at the hacked server.

The entire “Russian hacking” narrative was built on evidence from the private company CrowdStrike, which has investors like…

Warburg Pincus, whose president, Timothy Geithner, worked for the Clinton and Obama administrations. The Clinton campaign’s largest corporate contributor, Google, whose employees donated more than $1.3 million to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign last year, also has funded CrowdStrike.

And has a co-founder named Mr. Alperovitch, who…

–is also a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank focused on international issues that is partially funded by Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk, who reportedly has donated at least $10 million to the Clinton Foundation.

Late last year, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a respected British think tank, disputed CrowdStrike’s analysis of a Russian hack during Ukraine’s war with Russian-backed separatists. CrowdStrike later revised and retracted portions of its analysis.

The Washington Times reports

It is perhaps the key piece of forensic evidence in Russia’s suspected efforts to sway the November presidential election, but federal investigators have yet to get their hands on the hacked computer server that handled email from the Democratic National Committee.

Indeed, the only cybersecurity specialists who have taken a look at the server are from CrowdStrike, the Irvine, California-based private cybersecurity company that the DNC hired to investigate the hack — but which has come under fire itself for its work.

Some critics say CrowdStrike’s evidence for blaming Russia for the hack is thin. Members of Congress say they still believe Russia was responsible but wonder why the DNC has never allowed federal investigators to get a look at the key piece of evidence: the server. Either way, a key “witness” in the political scandal consuming the Trump administration remains beyond the reach of investigators.

“I want to find out from the company [that] did the forensics what their full findings were,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who is leading the Judiciary Committee’s inquiry, told The Washington Times.

Scrutinizing the DNC server hack and CrowdStrike’s analysis has not factored heavily in multiple probes exploring the Russia issue. But behind the scenes, discussions are growing louder, congressional sources say.

President Trump will hold an official bilateral meeting on Friday with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit in Germany, although it’s unclear how big the Russian election hacking scandal will loom in their private talk.

In recent days, questions about the server have taken on more importance as attention has focused on an email suggesting that the DNC and the Obama administration’s Justice Department were trying to limit the scope of the FBI’s investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s secret email account.

Mentioned in recent reporting and testimony from fired FBI Director James B. Comey, the correspondence reportedly shows Obama-era Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch privately assuring “someone in the Clinton campaign that the email investigation would not push too deeply into the matter.”

Some observers have wondered whether the information is real or is Russian disinformation.

The hacked server was last photographed in the basement of the DNC’s Washington headquarters near a file cabinet dating from the 1972 break-in of the DNC headquarters at the Watergate Hotel.

Both Republicans and Democrats say the DNC’s reaction to the hacking is troubling.

Jeh Johnson, who served as homeland security secretary under President Obama, told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence last month that his department offered to assist the DNC during the campaign to determine what was happening, but Mr. Johnson said he was rebuffed.

“The DNC,” Mr. Johnson said at the time, “did not feel it needed DHS’ assistance at that time. I was anxious to know whether or not our folks were in there, and the response I got was the FBI had spoken to them, they don’t want our help, they have CrowdStrike.”

In January, Mr. Comey told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that the FBI issued “multiple requests at different levels” to assist the DNC with a cyberforensic analysis. Those requests were also denied.

DNC officials said the Russian hack had already been discovered and dealt with when the Homeland Security Department approached them last summer.

Sen. Kamala D. Harris, California Democrat and a member of the Senate intelligence committee, said more needs to be known about the interaction.

“As a general point, there is no question that we need to look into everything in terms of who did what, what was invasive about hacking, and what they gained from it and why,” Ms. Harris told The Times. “Not only so we can establish what happened, but so it can teach us what is frankly inevitable about the next election cycle if we don’t figure out what happened.”

The White House has highlighted what it says is the DNC’s reluctance to accept help dealing with the server hack. President Trump, in a May 7 tweet, wondered: “When will the Fake Media ask about the Dems dealings with Russia & why the DNC wouldn’t allow the FBI to check their server or investigate?”

The Washington Times notes that many clouds cover CrowdStrike’s reputation, as the firms investigation into the DNC hack has produced questionable and biased results…

The DNC hack produced embarrassing internal emails that were posted to WikiLeaks and sparked a nasty internal battle just as the party was preparing for its convention and refereeing a spirited primary contest between front-runner Hillary Clinton and the insurgent campaign of Sen. Bernard Sanders.

Some emails suggested that the DNC leadership — including Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz — had plotted to undermine Mr. Sanders’ ascent in the presidential race. The WikiLeaks revelations on July 22 eventually resulted in the departures of Ms. Wasserman Schultz and several other top DNC executives.

To explore the hack, the DNC called in CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity tech company launched in 2011 hoping to challenge better-known industry leaders such as Symantec and McAfee.

Co-founded by George Kurtz and Dmitri Alperovitch, both former McAfee employees, CrowdStrike quickly acquired a string of high-profile clients.

In 2014, it investigated the Sony Pictures leak, the disclosure of a trove of sensitive and embarrassing internal emails and executive salary data apparently orchestrated by hackers sympathetic to North Korea, and who objected to Sony’s comic depiction of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

“We don’t have a mission statement — we are on a mission to protect our customers from breaches,” CrowdStrike’s website declares.

The firm also has found success in generating venture capital support. Fortune magazine reported that it has raised $256 million and boasts a “valuation exceeding $1 billion.”

Investors include Warburg Pincus, whose president, Timothy Geithner, worked for the Clinton and Obama administrations. The Clinton campaign’s largest corporate contributor, Google, whose employees donated more than $1.3 million to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign last year, also has funded CrowdStrike.

During the election cycle last year, the DNC paid CrowdStrike more than $410,000. This year, it has collected more than $121,000 from the party.

The DNC declined to answer questions about CrowdStrike. During a telephone call with The Times, DNC communications staff also refused to discuss the location of its infamous server.

In an ironic twist, CrowdStrike has added the National Republican Congressional Committee to its client list. The NRCC also declined to answer questions for this report.

In an email to The Times, CrowdStrike defended its record and said criticisms about its DNC work and interaction with U.S. law enforcement agencies are unfounded.

“In May 2016 CrowdStrike was brought to investigate the DNC network for signs of compromise, and under their direction we fully cooperated with every U.S. government request,” a spokesman wrote. The cooperation included the “providing of the forensic images of the DNC systems to the FBI, along with our investigation report and findings. Those agencies reviewed and subsequently independently validated our analysis.”

CrowdStrike faces increasing scrutiny, including over the impartiality of co-founder Mr. Alperovitch…

Mr. Alperovitch is also a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank focused on international issues that is partially funded by Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk, who reportedly has donated at least $10 million to the Clinton Foundation.

Late last year, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a respected British think tank, disputed CrowdStrike’s analysis of a Russian hack during Ukraine’s war with Russian-backed separatists. CrowdStrike later revised and retracted portions of its analysis.

CrowdStrike’s most famous finding — that Russian-supported hackers penetrated the DNC server — has triggered the most questions.

Last year, that finding was wrapped into the assessment from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which first raised alarms about Russian meddling.

The DNI, which briefed Mr. Obama and Mr. Trump on the Russian meddling operation and issued classified and public assessments, concluded that “the Russian government directed the recent compromises of emails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations,” meaning the DNC hack.

CrowdStrike said it found malware known as X-Agent on the DNC computers. Russia’s Federal Security Service and its main military intelligence branch, the GRU, have used this malware to penetrate unclassified networks at the White House, the State Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

CrowdStrike also said it had identified two teams of Russian hackers, with the code names “Fancy Bear” and “Cozy Bear,” operating inside the DNC network.

“We’ve had lots of experience with both of these actors attempting to target our customers in the past and know them well,” Mr. Alperovitch wrote on CrowdStrike’s blog in June 2016.

But cybersecurity consultant Jeffrey Carr questioned whether CrowdStrike’s evidence clinches the case.

“X-Agent has been around for ages and has always been attributed to the Russian government, but others use it,” said Mr. Carr, who has supplied the U.S. intelligence community with analysis.

Mr. Carr said in an interview that the malware can be recovered, reverse-engineered and reused. Copies of X-Agent exist outside Russian hands, including one with an American cybersecurity company. He said it’s possible CrowdStrike was duped — or simply sees Russia’s handiwork everywhere.

WikiLeaks has consistently denied that it received the material from the Kremlin amid reports that a leaker within the DNC might have abetted the hack. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told Fox News in January: “We can say, we have said, repeatedly over the last two months that our source is not the Russian government and it is not a state party.”

Atlanta-based hacker Robert David Graham, who runs a consultancy called Errata Security, said CrowdStrike’s certainty about the Russian role can’t be accepted uncritically.

“CrowdStrike is better than anything that the government has,” he said. “But once you decide it is Russia, you will go looking for Russia.”

Overall, he said, political factors distorted what needs to be a more scientific approach to who had access to the DNC servers.

“For good or bad, we make judgments based on our expertise and knowledge,” he said. “Sometimes they are insightful and awesomely correct. Sometimes they fall flat on their face.”

Mr. Graham, a libertarian like many others in the hacker community, said that from a privacy standpoint, he understands why the DNC would not want to hand over its server to the federal government. “What private company would?”

Congressional inquiry?

Whether CrowdStrike appears before a congressional inquiry anytime soon could depend on the momentum of the overall Russia investigations throughout Capitol Hill.

Late last month, after hearing Mr. Johnson say the DNC denied Homeland Security overtures to help secure its computers, Rep. Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Republican and the incoming chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said, “There may be something else on that server [that the DNC] didn’t want law enforcement to see.”

Mr. Graham has insisted he needs to know more about CrowdStrike.

“What did they find?” he asked.

Some on Capitol Hill have an even harsher take. Rep. Louie Gohmert, a conservative Texas Republican and a former prosecutor, said DNC and CrowdStrike are acting like defendants with something to hide in declining to allow government investigators access to the server.

“Why would they not invite them in?” Mr. Gohmert asked in a Fox News interview last month. “And I’m really interested in their excuse. But just from my own experience in all those years, usually the reason somebody didn’t want to invite law enforcement in to investigate is because they knew they would find that they had committed crimes if they came in and started investigating.”

The cybersecurity community also wants more answers.

“The only things that pay in the cybersecurity world are claims of attribution,” Mr. Carr said. “Which foreign government attacked you? If you are critical of the attack, you make zero money. CrowdStrike is the poster child for companies that operate like this.”

Last year, alongside one of the DNI assessments, the Obama administration released a spreadsheet containing part of CrowdStrike’s cyberforensic work. The data included digital signatures and IP addresses, which trace computer-to-computer communications and help identify hackers. Mr. Graham, the hacker, said the only way to dispel all doubt would be to analyze independently everything CrowdStrike has seen. To do so would mean getting access to the DNC server.

As for CrowdStrike, when asked whether officials would be willing to testify before a congressional inquiry, a spokesman reiterated in an email that the company already “provided the forensic images and our analysis to the FBI.” He said the company is “standing by the work it did for the DNC.”

In May, less than a week after Mr. Comey was fired as FBI director, CrowdStrike announced it had raised $100 million in venture capital.

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Russia makes MASSIVE progress on its ‘super-weapons’

Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle moves into serial production, nuclear-engine powered cruise missile tests continue, and more as Russia continues to outdo all Western military tech

Seraphim Hanisch

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On July 19th and 20th, The Russian Defense Ministry announced several milestones of progress in its advanced weapons systems programs. These programs were revealed to the world in March of this year, when Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the State of the Russian Federation speech.

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While at first the Western onlookers did not believe the amazing announcements of hypersonic weapons and nuclear-powered cruise missiles with unlimited range, subsequent releases and concurrent observation by the American military experts has shown these developments to be as real as Mr. Putin claimed they are.

TASS, the Russian News Agency, released information on these weapons systems in separate reports:

Kinzhal

The Kinzhal hypersonic missile:

Squadrons of MiG-31 fighter jets armed with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles should enter combat duty in the Black Sea region and at other Russian fleets and flotillas, said Russian military expert Viktor Murakhovsky, the editor-in-chief of the Arsenal Otechestva magazine.

Besides, a squadron (between 12 and 16 aircraft) of MiG-31 fighter jets armed with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles entered combat duty in the Caspian Sea region in April.

“I think at least one squadron of those complexes should be deployed at any fleet, in other words – at all regions where we have fleets and flotillas. We need to deploy them in the regions of the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Northern Fleet. The Pacific region also should not be forgotten,” Murakhovsky said.

He said that such systems can become a “good instrument” against not only vessels equipped with high-precision weapons, but also for countering carrier attack groups.

“We know how expensive a carrier attack group can be. By employing this asymmetric method, which is unbelievably cheap in comparison with building a carrier attack group, we can neutralize this threat almost completely,” the expert said.

Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile trials:

The Burevestnik is an entirely new cruise missile, powered by a nuclear engine. This gives the missile unlimited range. In theory, such a missile could be launched at a target and spend days or weeks in hidden flight using advanced guidance systems, and then close on its target at the optimal time to assure destruction of that target with maximum surprise. The TASS piece goes on to say:

The Russian Defense Ministry announced that Russia was preparing to test upgraded test prototypes of the nuclear-powered Burevestnik cruise missile with an unlimited range.

According to the expert, it is highly likely that the prototype of the missile “has already made a flight.”

“Clearly, it was something like the pop-up trials of Sarmat – a launch without the nuclear-powered engine, in other words, with an ordinary missile booster, conducted in order to assess the possibility of a launch, aerodynamics and the operability of the entire system in general,” [Murakhovsky] said.

Further reporting from TASS had this to add about the Burevestnik program:

Russia is getting ready for flight tests of the Burevestnik nuclear powered cruise missile, an official at the Defense Ministry told reporters on Thursday.

“The missile’s component makeup is being improved based on clarified requirements, while ground tests continue and preparations are being made for experimental flight tests of the improved missile,” the official said.

According to the Defense Ministry, “work on an unlimited-range missile is going according to plan.”

“In the meantime, launching systems are also being designed, while technological processes to manufacture, assemble and test the missile are being improved. This range of work will make it possible to start designing a totally new sort of weapon – a strategic nuclear complex armed with a nuclear powered missile,” the ministry official noted.

[The head] of the 12th Central Research Institute at Russia’s Defense Ministry Sergey Pertsev, in turn, said that the tests of the new cruise missile equipped with a small nuclear power unit had confirmed the accuracy of the technical decisions that Russian researchers, engineers and designers had made. In addition, the tests enabled the researchers “to receive valuable experimental data necessary for specifying a number of requirements.”

“A low-flying and low-observable cruise missile carrying a nuclear warhead, with an almost unlimited range, an unpredictable trajectory and capability to bypass interception lines is invincible to all the existing and advanced air and missile defense systems,” the Russian Defense Ministry stressed.

A further use of the nuclear engine technology is also expected in the Poseidon underwater drone, Mr. Murakhovsky stated that separate systems for the craft have been successfully tested. He further noted that the next task is to design the entire layout, build a test model and begin testing the whole platform.

The Avangard Hypersonic Missile

While the Kinzhal is a Mach-10 capable hypersonic system that can be launched from a fighter, the Avangard is a Mach-20 capable system that has intercontinental reach. There is almost no footage of this system released to the public, but the concept videos show how the system works. TASS reports this status:

Russia’s Strategic Missile Force is preparing a position area for accepting the Avangard hypersonic missile system for service as part of the efforts to strengthen the country’s military security, the Defense Ministry announced on Thursday.

“The Russian defense industry has completed developing the Avangard missile system with the principally new armament – the gliding cruise warhead. Industrial enterprises have switched to its serial production,” the Defense Ministry said.

“A set of organizational and technical measures is underway in the position area of the Dombarovsky large unit of the Strategic Missile Force to accept the Avangard missile system for operation,” it added.

The development of new strategic weapon systems “is aimed at increasing Russia’s defense capability and preventing any aggression against our country and its allies,” the Defense Ministry stressed.

The infrastructural facilities of the large unit’s position area have already been prepared for the missile system’s operation, the ministry said.

“The position area has been prepared in geodesic and engineering terms to accommodate the missile system. Work is underway to build new and reconstruct old facilities to provide for the operation and the combat use of the system. Technical and utility supply lines are being modernized and electric power, communications and command and control cables are being laid. Work has been arranged to train personnel and prepare armament, military and special hardware,” Russia’s Defense Ministry said.

Deputy Commander of Russia’s Strategic Missile Force for Armament Sergei Poroskun has said that the Avangard hypersonic missile system features combat capabilities that “make it possible to reliably breach any anti-missile defenses.”

The Okhotnik attack drone

The Okhotnik (“Hunter”) attack drone is now being viewed as a prototype for Russia’s “sixth-generation” fighter plane. TASS describes this in more detail:

According to [a defense industry] official, although the sixth generation fighter jet project “has not yet taken full shape, its main features are already known.”

“First of all, it should be unmanned and capable of performing any combat task in an autonomous regime. In this sense, Okhotnik will become the prototype of the sixth generation fighter jet,’ the source said, adding that the drone will be able to “take off, fulfill its objectives and return to the airfield.”

“However, it will not receive the function of decision-making regarding the use of weapons – this will be decided by a human,” he said.

TASS was unable to officially confirm the information at the time of the publication.

Another defense industry source earlier told TASS that the prototype of Okhotnik (Hunter) was ready and would start test flights this year.

The Russian Defense Ministry and the Sukhoi Company signed a contract for developing the 20-ton Okhotnik (Hunter) heavy unmanned strike aircraft in 2011. The drone’s mock-up model was made in 2014. According to unconfirmed reports, composite materials and anti-radar coating were used to create the Okhotnik. The drone is equipped with a reaction-jet propulsion and is supposed to develop a speed of 1000 kilometers per hour.

Peresvet laser weapons systems

TASS reported that the Russian military forces are now training for the use of the Peresvet combat laser system:

Russian Aerospace Force has accepted for service the laser complexes Peresvet and the military are now taking drills that involve the novel combat technologies, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Thursday.

“The Peresvet laser complexes have been placed at sites of permanent deployment,” the report said. “Active efforts to make them fully operational are underway.”

“To ensure their proper functioning, the necessary infrastructures and specialized facilities for housing the complexes and duty crews have been built,” the ministry said.

The crews assigned to the Peresvets have taken upgrader courses at the Alexander Mozhaisky Military-Space Academy in St Petersburg.

The Russian military strategy of “asymmetric response.”

The overall defense strategy is termed an “asymmetric response”, and Mr. Murakhovsky explained the principle in this way:

“This is an asymmetric response, in which new classes of weapons are created, instead of new types within the framework of the existing systems. Other states are not expected to have anything of this kind [in the near future],” he said.

The expert described this response as “quite an efficient one, all the more so because it requires no additional investment – all the works are being carried out within the framework of the state procurement program.”

He added that unlike the Soviet Union, Russia avoids being dragged into a direct arms race and searches for cutting-edge solutions instead of simply increasing the number of weapons.

“The development of counter-weapons to those arms [may be possible] in distant future, but it does not mean that they can be created at all,” Murakhovsky added.

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From McCain to Brennan, Deep State soft coup against Trump picks up steam (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 59.

Alex Christoforou

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After Trump’s meeting with Putin in Helsinki, the Deep State smells blood, and is moving quickly to depose of US President Donald Trump.

Government officials and mainstream media puppets from left and right are condemning the US President over his press conference with Vladimir Putin.

Leading the charge are the usual Deep State, suspects, starting with John McCain and ending with the man many believe is behind the entire Trump-Russia collusion hoax, former Obama CIA boss John Brennan.

RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou examine the soft coup aimed at removing US President Trump by the November 2018 midterms. Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Via The Independent

Conservative John McCain, who is facing a rare and terminal brain cancer, unleashed a damning statement against Mr Trump’s conference with Mr Putin, describing it as “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory”.

“President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin,” he said.

“It is tempting to describe the press conference as a pathetic rout — as an illustration of the perils of under-preparation and inexperience. But these were not the errant tweets of a novice politician. These were the deliberate choices of a president who seems determined to realise his delusions of a warm relationship with Putin’s regime without any regard for the true nature of his rule, his violent disregard for the sovereignty of his neighbours, his complicity in the slaughter of the Syrian people, his violation of international treaties, and his assault on democratic institutions throughout the world.”

The conservative senator’s comments arrived after the US president declined to name Russia as the adversary behind coordinated attacks on the 2016 presidential election.

While discussing whether he thought Russia was behind hacks against the 2016 election — as the US intelligence community has determined —the president said: “I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

“Dan Coats [the US Director of National Intelligence] said its Russia. President Putin says its not Russia,” said Mr Trump. “I don’t know why it would be…..I have confidence in both parties. President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”

That set off a wave of condemnations from Democrats and Republicans alike.

“President Trump’s press conference with Putin was an embarrassing spectacle,” Bernie Sanders wrote in a tweet. “Rather than make clear that interference in our elections is unacceptable, Trump instead accepted Putin’s denials and cast doubt on the conclusions of our intelligence community. This is not normal.”

Jeff Flake, one of the only frequent Republican critics of Mr Trump in Congress, said the conference was “shameful” in a statement he posted across social media.

“I never thought I would see the day when our American President would stand on the stage with the Russian President and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression,” he said. “This is shameful.”

Former CIA Director John Brennan released a statement calling for Mr Trump’s impeachment and describing his comments as “treasonous”.

“Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes and misdemeanours,'” Mr Brennan wrote on Twitter. “It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???”

Elizabeth Warren also slammed the president for failing to hold Mr Putin accountable, writing on Twitter: “Russia interfered in our elections & attacked our democracy. Putin must be held accountable – not rewarded.”

“Disgraceful,” she concluded.

However, Mr Trump’s typical roster of critics weren’t the only legislators rebuking his bizarre denials of US intelligence. Lindsey Graham also criticised Mr Trump’s performance, adding that his denial of US intelligence will “be seen by Russia as a sign of weakness and create far more problems than it solves”.

“Missed opportunity by President Trump to firmly hold Russia accountable for 2016 meddling and deliver a strong warning regarding future elections,” he said.

The Republican senator added a suggestion to Mr Trump: review the soccer ball Mr Putin gave to him as a gift for “listening devices” and “never allow it in the White House.”

Thomas Pickering, a regarded statesman and the former US ambassador to Russia, told MSNBC that he was in utter disbelief after the press conference was held on Monday.

“It’s a breathtaking denial of something that clearly is so obviously true,” he said. ”it represents the epitome of President Trump’s effort at self-promotion over the notion of defending the national interest of the United States.”

Mark Warner, a Virginia senator, also suggested Mr Trump committed a clear violation of his responsibilities as president.

Mr Trump committed “a breach of his duty to defend our country against its adversaries,” Mr Warner said. ”If the President cannot defend the United States and its interests in public, how can we trust him to stand up for our country in private?”

Meanwhile the latest Deep State leak, via the NYT, claims that US President Trump was told by Obama holdovers that Putin was involved in cyberattacks during the 2016 election. US intelligence told Trump this information days before the inauguration.

Via The Gateway Pundit

The same liberal hacks who illegally leaked this information want Americans to trust them as they continue to destroy this duly elected president.

President Trump on Wednesday told CBS anchor Jeff Glor that he has no confidence in the tainted intelligence by far left hacks Clapper, Brennan and Comey.

And, once again, the timing of this leak is not an accident.

Liberals are outraged that President Trump refused to chest bump Putin in Helsinki.

The deep state leaked this information to pile on the Republican president.

The New York Times reported…

Two weeks before his inauguration, Donald J. Trump was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had personally ordered complex cyberattacks to sway the 2016 American election.

The evidence included texts and emails from Russian military officers and information gleaned from a top-secret source close to Mr. Putin, who had described to the C.I.A. how the Kremlin decided to execute its campaign of hacking and disinformation.

Mr. Trump sounded grudgingly convinced, according to several people who attended the intelligence briefing. But ever since, Mr. Trump has tried to cloud the very clear findings that he received on Jan. 6, 2017, which his own intelligence leaders have unanimously endorsed.

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Russia ranks HIGHER than Switzerland in these areas of doing business

Some curious things happened with several businesspeople who attended World Cup events in Russia.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin

One of them was a distinctly renewed interest in doing business inside the country, and another was the realization to what extent perceptions have been tainted by media and political rhetoric directed against any real or imagined nastiness attributed to Russia these days.

These past few weeks have been invaluable, at the very least by affording a clear picture of Russia through which almost all anxiety-ridden preconceptions were illuminated and dispelled. More disturbing was the fact that the several businesspeople I was dealing with were furious. They were livid for being played for fools, and felt victimized by the dismally untrue picture painted about Russia and Russians in their home countries, both by their own politicians and the press.

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Most felt that they have been personally sanctioned by their own countries, betrayed through lack of clear unbiased information enabling them to participate and profit from Russia opportunities these past three growth years in spite of “sanctions”.

The door to doing good business in Russia has been and is open, and has been opening wider year after year. That is not just “highly likely”, but fact. Consistently improving structures, means and methods to conduct business in Russia sustainably, transparently and profitably are now part of the country’s DNA. It is a process, which has been worked on in the west for more than a century, and one, which Russia has only started these past 18 years.

True, there are sanctions, counter-sanctions, and regulations governing them that must be studied carefully. However if you are not a bank or doing business with those persons deemed worthy of being blacklisted by some countries “sanctions list”, in reality there are no obstacles that cannot be positively addressed and legally overcome despite the choir of political nay-sayers.

READ MORE: Russia just dumped $80 BILLION in US debt

The days of quickly turning over Russia opportunities into short-term cash are rapidly fading, they are a throwback to the 1990’s. Today the major and open opportunities are in the areas for Foreign Direct Investments. The nature of FDI is long term to make regularly recurring sustainable returns on investment.

Long term, Russia always was and increasingly confirms that it is a vibrant and attractive market. There is a significant consumer market with spending power, a well-educated workforce, a wealth of resources and the list goes on. The economic obstacles encountered have largely been imposed from without, and not from the dynamics and energies of the Russian economy itself.

Eventually sanctions will end, although the timeline is anyone’s guess. Meanwhile business continues, and any long-term engagement within Russia by establishing a working presence will yield both short and long-term investment rewards. These will only be amplified when the sanctions regimes are removed. In any event, these aspects are long-term investment decisions and one of the criteria in any risk assessment.

For some added perspective, Russia is ranked by the Financial Times as the No.2 country in Europe in terms of capital investments into Europe. It has a 2017 market share of 9% (US$ 15.9 billion) and includes 203 business projects. This is 2% higher than 2016 and better that 2014/2015 when sanctions were imposed.

Another item of perspective is the Country Risk Premium. All investors consider this when calculating the scope for long-term return on investments. What may surprise some is that Russia is no longer ranked as a very high-risk country. For comparisons sake: The risk premium for Germany is zero (no extra risk), the risk premium for Italy is 2.19%, and for Russia, it is 2.54%. When compared to politically popular investment destinations like Ukraine the risk premium is 10.4%  – food for thought. Bottom line is that the risks of investing in Russia are a smidge higher than investing in Italy.

Russia is ranked 35 among 190 economies in the ease of doing business, according to the latest World Bank annual ratings. The ranking of Russia improved to 35 in 2017 from 40 in 2016 and from 124 in 2010. It may also surprise some to learn that as concerns protecting the rights of minority investors, paying taxes, registering property and some other aspects of the World Bank comparisons, Russia comes out better than Switzerland (See: Rankings).

From operational standpoints, establishing an invested presence in Russia does not mean one must adopt Russian managerial methods or practices. The advantages for established foreign companies is that their management culture is readily applied and absorbed by a smart and willing workforce, enabling a seamless integration given the right training and tools.

The trend towards the ultimate globalization of business despite trade wars, tariffs, sanctions and counter-sanctions is clear. The internet of the planet, the blockchain and speed of information exchange makes it so whether we wish it or not. Personally, I hope that political globalization remains stillborn as geopolitics has a historical mandate to tinker with and play havoc with international trade.

Russia occupies a key strategic position between Europe and Asia. The “west” (US/Europe) have long had at times rather turbulent relationships with China. At the same time the Chinese are quite active investors in both the US and Europe, and western companies are often struggling to understand how to deal with China.

The answer to this conundrum is Russia: this is where East and West will ultimately come together with Russia playing a pivotal role in the relations between the west and China. At the end of the day, and taking the strategic long-term economic view, is what both Chinese and Western companies are investing in when they open their activities in Russia.

If long-term commitment and investment in Russia were simply a matter of transferring funds then I would not be bothering with this opinion article. Without a doubt, there are structural issues with investing in Russia. A still evolving and sometimes unclear rule of law, difficulties obtaining finance for investments directed towards Russia, the unique language and culture of business in the country. Nevertheless, companies that have an understanding and vision of global strategy will manage with these issues and have the means to mitigate them.

Money and other invested resources do not and should not play politics; any investment case when evaluated on objective financial criteria will reveal its fit, or lack of, within a company’s global strategic business objectives. The objective criteria for Russia over any long term horizon is both convincing and strong. This has been repeated by all of the businesspeople I have met with these past few weeks. Without doubt we shall see some new companies coming into the Russian market and objectively exploring the gains their playing fair business football here will yield.

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