Don’t really know what a grand jury is? Here you go.

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The new grand jury is a sign that the investigations are ramping up—it shows that the Russian investigation has expanded beyond Flynn to several of Trump’s family members and current and former aides and will possibly continue for many more months. It also means that criminal charges are possible (and that Mueller has evidence of possible criminal activity). It is as yet unclear who the targets of the investigation are.

pub. 08/2017

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You should read at least something about Bill Browder’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee

The video is here.

A few choice quotes:

“What you need to understand about the Russians is there is no ideology at all. Vladimir Putin is in the business of trying to create chaos everywhere.”

“First, since 2012 it’s emerged that Vladimir Putin was a beneficiary of the stolen $230 million that Sergei Magnitsky exposed. Recent revelations from the Panama Papers have shown that Putin’s closest childhood friend, Sergei Roldugin, a famous cellist, received $2 billion of funds from Russian oligarchs and the Russian state. It’s commonly understood that Mr. Roldugin received this money as an agent of Vladimir Putin.”

“There are approximately ten thousand officials in Russia working for Putin who are given instructions to kill, torture, kidnap, extort money from people, and seize their property. Before the Magnitsky Act, Putin could guarantee them impunity and this system of illegal wealth accumulation worked smoothly. However, after the passage of the Magnitsky Act, Putin’s guarantee disappeared. The Magnitsky Act created real consequences outside of Russia and this created a real problem for Putin and his system of kleptocracy.”

all from 07/2017

A written version, from the Atlantic:

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NPR’s coverage:

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The light Huff Po version, in part focusing on the administration’s probable attempts to distract the public from the testimony:

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The similar Metro version:

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Another Trump family story that shouldn’t surprise you in the least

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What Golden found, essentially, was that Jared’s father handed Harvard (a school he did not attend) a big pile of money just as Jared was starting to apply to colleges. Around the same time, Jared’s dad got his US senator to contact another US senator to arrange a chat with Harvard’s dean of admissions.

Happily for the Kushner family, Jared was then admitted. But several officials at Jared’s high school outright told Golden that they found the choice puzzling, since his grades and academic record really didn’t seem to merit it[.]

pub. 08/2017

Let’s learn a little something about the Eric Trump Foundation

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The Eric Trump Foundation declined to comment on that donation. In effect, though, this maneuver would appear to have more in common with a drug cartel’s money-laundering operation than a charity’s best-practices textbook. That $100,000 in outside donations to the Donald J. Trump Foundation (remember: Trump himself didn’t give to his own foundation at this time) passed through the Eric Trump Foundation–and wound up in the coffers of Donald Trump’s private businesses.

“His father, Mr. Trump, always, until the presidency, had a very, very tight rein on what was going on,” says Gillule, referring to the company’s golf courses. “The buck always stopped with him.”

pub. 06/2017

The loyal oligarchs: A glimpse into the inner workings of Putin’s reign

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(In the paper edition, this article was titled “Oligarchy 2.0”.)

In the nineties, Russia’s oligarchs appropriated state assets—industrial production, mining, and oil and gas deposits—and did what they wanted with them. The oligarchs of the Putin era, on the other hand, are themselves assets of the state, administering business fiefdoms that also happen to pay handsomely. Many have a long-standing relationship with the President, and a particular sphere of responsibility. Rotenberg’s is infrastructure.

pub. 05/2017